You, dear Doctor, are my only rescue! / Jest Pan, Panie Doktorze, jedynym ratunkiem!

July 27, 2017

A performance installation by Agnieszka Koscianska and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay

Tuesday 8th August 2017
17:30 – 19:00

Basic Mountain
1 Hill St, Edinburgh EH2 3JP

In socialist Poland, sexologists who ran columns in youth magazines received thousands of letters: “I’m a lesbian”; “Homosexuality is the most horrible sexual perversion. I experienced it personally, and consider this my life’s tragedy…”; “I’m 20 years old and I’m afraid of the future because my body is developing as a woman, while my soul is developing as a man”. Readers asked for help: “I’m in trouble and I don’t know how to get out of it”; shared: “People who love differently can be happy!”; or called for action: “Ladies, if you feel that destiny has hurt you by making you love women, write!”. Sexologists not only printed these letters, but also empathized with the authors, and modified their scientific views in order to answer concerns of their queer readers. As a result, these patient-oriented sex columns were the space of dialogue, and up to the mid-1980s, the only mainstream forum where queer voices could be heard.

A selection of these letters, collected by visiting anthropologist and historian of sexuality Agnieszka Koscianska, serve as source material for a performance installation in which an ensemble of performers reviews, transcribes and reads aloud passages in Polish and English. The performance seeks to reveal the shifting, overlapping positions of queers in Poland struggling to define their identities, build communities and take control of their destinies, painting a portrait of the evolving sexual consciousness of the era.

W PRL seksuolodzy piszacy do prasy mlodziezowej dostawali tysiace listow: „Jestem lesbijka”; „Najpotworniejszym ze zboczen seksualnych jest homoseksualizm. Doswiadczam tego na wlasnej skorze, co uwazam za swoja zyciowa tragedie”. „Mam 20 lat i obawiam si? przyszlosci, poniewaz cialo moje rozwija sie w kierunku kobiecym, a dusza w meskim”. Czytelnicy prosili o pomoc: „Jestem w klopocie i nie wiem, jak z tego wybrnac”; zwierzali sie: „Ludzie kochajacy inaczej moga byc szczesliwi!”; wzywali innych do dzialania: „Dziewczyny, jezeli czujecie sie skrzywdzone przez los miloscia do kobiet, napiszcie!”. Seksuolodzy nie tylko publikowali te listy, lecz takze wczuwali sie w problemy autorow i rewidowali swoje poglady, by pomoc queerowym czytelnikom. W rezultacie te zorientowane na potrzeby pacjentow rubryki staly sie przestrzenia dialogu i do polowy lat 80. XX wieku jedynym miejscem w kulturze glownego nurtu, gdzie mozna bylo uslyszec glosy odmiencow.

Performance wyrasta z listow do seksuologa zebranych przez antropolozke i historyczke seksualnosci Agnieszke Koscianska. W jego trakcie grupa performerow przepisze odrecznie i odczyta na glos ich fragmenty po polsku i po angielsku. Akcja jest proba pokazania sytuacji seksualnych i plciowych odmiencow w socjalistycznej Polsce i ich walki o zdefiniowanie wlasnych tozsamosci, zbudowanie wspolnoty i przejecie kontroli nad swoim losem. Kresli tym samym portret ewoluujacej swiadomosci seksualnej epoki PRL.

Tickets for the event are free and can be booked via EventBrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/you-dear-doctor-are-my-only-rescue-tickets-36510565083

Project Concept:
Agnieszka Koscianska
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay

Performance:
Colin Herd
Agnieszka Koscianska
Damian Matwiejuk
Michal Petryk
Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay
Nat Raha
Ewelina Rydzewska

Production:
Cruising the Seventies: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures
Polish-English Translation:
Marta Rozmyslowicz

Agnieszka Koscianska’s research in Edinburgh is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Caledonian Research Fund.

Accessibility: Please note that the performance space at Basic Mountain has no wheelchair access. The performance space is up two flights of stairs and the venue does not have a lift. We are unable to provide BSL interpretation or live transcription for this event.