In Memory of Major Józef Moneta and All True Teachers
Film super 8 mm, transferred to DVD; 13’16”
Marble plate, porcelain plaque: 50 x 30 cm
The viewer walks into the project dedicated to the memory of Major Moneta through a film that looks like archive footage from the times of WWII. The action takes place “at the end of December 1939, in birch forests near Kielce,” where a partisan unit created by soldiers from a defeated cavalry squadron set up camp. This is a clear allusion to the historical figure of Major Henryk Dobrzański “Hubal”, a cavalry officer who never surrendered after the fall of the September Campaign and, together with his soldiers, went underground, or – literally to the forest – to continue their fight. But the unit depicted in Brzeski’s film is headed by quite a different major. At first we don’t meet him; the first scene of the film shows partisans in a forest bivouac; someone’s cooking a meal, someone brings in front of the camera a sweetheart’s photo taken out of a pocket; yet another one distributes mail among his colleagues. When Major enters the stage, the amateur-styled documentary turns into oneiric phantasmagoria. The commander’s peaked hat hides not a human face, but a reptilian snout of a monster. The demonic Major begins a strange ritual; like a magician he pulls a white rabbit out of a box and slits its throat. This bloody offering is mysteriously but clearly linked with the figure of a young aide-de-camp, who at the sight of his terrible commander bolts, faints and falls down unconscious, and regains his senses only when Major Moneta completes his strange rite. Brzeski describes this incident in terms of “a lesson” given by a mentor to his younger student and subordinate; the film has its origins in the documentary space of a historical reconstruction, but it ends up in the sphere of a mysterious allegory.
Text: Stach Szabłowski / Translation: T.J.