michal rutz

There seems to be a lot of commentary going on regarding the painting Intifada by Polish Artist Michal Rutz that I have posted in January of this year, so I thought I would provide the statement the artist provided for this painting on his official website since there are many who are not able to realize how typically offensive and inappropriate it is:

The painting that i made during exams to Fine Arts Academy in Vienna. In my earlier works I have already presented the theme of discrimination of gay people. When I visited Palestine last winter I got to know a few gays and realised that their situation and experience, besides the cultural and geographical remoteness, is not very different than the situation of Polish LGBT people. During my visit to the Middle East I got to know the complicated relation between Israel and Palestine. On the other hand I was moved by the fact that there is no representation of gay Palestinians in the public space. The gay issue is also highly politicised by the both sides of the conflict and is made a part of the war and use as an argument. Gay Palestinians do not have any point of positive reference, so I wanted to create it for them. I was inspired by the fact that a white and black keffiyeh is a symbol of revolution, nationality and fight for freedom. Through my painting I want to deconstruct the common associations with the symbol of keffieyeh and create new ones. It is also inspired by the famous paintings of Magritte in which the models got anonymity with scarfs on their faces and viewers got an opportunity to fantasise about the identities of the people depicted.

What the artist seems to fail to realize is that he is ALSO taking part in this politicization of the queer identities that he seems to criticize. Even though he seems to be drawing comparisons between Palestine and Poland in regards to acceptability of queers in the society, he is also indirectly engaging in that pinkwashing rhetoric of the Israeli state. Like many of you mentioned recently and a while ago, it is part of this white saviour complex that drives many people like Rutz to act as the white knights that defends individuals and groups not based on their realities and needs, but based on his/her own selfish and often racist (culturally insensitive) perceptions of what is right and wrong.

With that being said, I must admit that when I first posted it in the beginning of this year I was not very much aware of the context in which the artist worked within when he painted it. It is however part of a series of highly hyper-sexualized paintings that tackle the gay identity, which is another problem I have with his work but thats a different issue.