Empowering women threatened with social exclusion
The Collective is an informal group of artists and social activists working together to implement initiatives for women, about women, and through women. “We have risen from a refusal to accept the social marginalisation of women from disadvantaged groups and of their voice, and from a will to promote equal rights, empowerment and strength of women functioning beyond mainstream social fabric”. “The Collective engages in artistic activities with various women, including depression patients, inmates, and the homeless.”
Expressing self in therapy theatre performance
Mini-grant funds were used by Kobietostan – who joined forces with the self-proclaimed Impro theatre group established by female inmates of the Penitentiary Unit in Krzywaniec – to design and prepare Maria K., a performance awarded the Grand Prix of the All-Polish Prison Theatre Art Competition in Poznań. The piece was inspired by the life and work of Maria Komornicka, Polish poet and social change innovator, rejected by the society and stigmatised for her radical courage.
At the age of thirty-one, Maria Komornicka cast all her women’s dresses into the furnace, and declared to the world that she was a man. This is how Piotr Odmieniec (“Changeling”) Włast was born. “Our version of Maria’s story does not end with an image of social exclusion: on the contrary, we close with an image of women’s solidarity expressed in collective black protest. We believe that female solidarity is a force which might have turned a contemporary Maria Komornicka into a heroine rather than a freak.”
The Penitentiary Unit in Krzywaniec, located in the heart of a forest and isolated from the outside world in every way imaginable, is the second largest women’s prison in Poland. Practically no resocialising activities are organised, inmates offered a choice between work in the prison factory, attendance at prayer and spiritual meetings held by priests of assorted denominations, or idleness. A group of more than ten inmates forged an initiative to create their own theatre group.
Grant amount: 4400.00 PLN
Photos by: Agata Kubis/ .kolektyw