Łukasz Surowiec

B. 1985 in Rzeszów. Interdisciplinary artist, sculptor, author of video works as well as actions in public space, situations, and interventions based on the investigations of social relations. Surowiec is a graduate of the Faculty of Sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznań, and Universität der Künste in Berlin. The artist has presented his works in several individual shows, such as “Happy New Year,” CCA Kronika in Bytom, 2011/2013, “Forefathers’ Eve,” Bunkier Sztuki, Kraków, 2013, “Nobody Is Afraid to Die,” CCA Ujazdowski Castle, 2014, “Waiting Room,” CCA “Signs of Time,” Toruń, 2014. Participant in numerous group shows, including “As You Can See: Polish Art Today, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, 2014; “Air de Pologne,” De Garage, Mechelen, Belgium, 2012; “Critical Juncture,” Kochi Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India 2013; “Polish Art Today,” Kunsthalle, Bratislava, 2014; and “7th Berlin Biennale,” KW, Berlin 2012, with his project Berlin-Birkenau, which was also presented at the Whitechapel Gallery in London and in Hongkong. Lives and works in Kraków.


Łukasz Surowiec, Alicja Rogalska, Tear Dealer, 2014, video, object

As an artistic project, a tear dealer operated for five consecutive days in a rented commercial space located one a street in downtown Lublin. Renovated and operational, the space matched the character of other such venues and neighbouring shops such as a  greengrocer’s and numerous pawnshops. The interior decoration flirts between the pure white interior of a cosmetic studio and an outlet of a loan shark. It was a place where one could deposit one’s tears in exchange for real money—100 zlotys for 3 ml of tears.

The project investigates community-building processes that shift the focus from the sphere of rational choices to the forces that bind the collective body through the energy of common experience. After all, community is not consolidated only by its rational choices, but it also draws on affective forces and emotions. “Tear Dealer” by Alicja Rogalska and Łukasz Surowiec is an archive-collection of materialized social lamentation, common tears cried to a single glass vessel.

The work actualizes the Catholic devotion of Bitter Lamentations (Gorzkie Żale), which is a distinctively Polish devotion sung during Lent and deeply embedded in Polish culture. Presented here, the only difference is that the community of the faithful is replaced with one arranged by the artists. A community formed around compassio—commiseration in suffering—a secular ritual involving the joining in misery and shaking of sorrows through the act of crying.

The work by Rogalska and Surowiec reveals one of the forces behind a temporary collective body—whose development and existence is underpinned by a similar emotion. It also refers to certain mental clichés, and the habitual perception of “Polishness” as an identity founded on suffering. The project was also an attempt to understand contemporary economic mechanisms as well as a radical application of the economic theory of purposelessness.