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17 September – 2021 at Nowy Teatr

Tear gas and pepper spray belong to the same group of riot control agents. This toned-down name is equivalent to the term biological weapon and was used as such for the first time on a mass scale during the First World War. Due to their high efficiency in controlling both individuals and crowds the substances soon became more popular and accessible.

Tear gas and pepper spray have different chemical composition. The former is solely synthetic, while the latter contains also natural ingredients, especially capsaicin, substance which is also present in hot peppers. It is capsaicin that is mainly responsible for paralyzing crowds: burning pain in the eyes, nose, skin, mouth and respiratory tract. The memory of its taste and consequences is particularly vivid to the Women’s Strike protesters of 2020. 

Ewa Partum’s Tear-jerker refers to those protests, and especially to police brutality towards the demonstrators. The artist does not reproduce images of violent performance but transforms it in a subversive way into a different substance. Using such ingredients as chilli and ink, the artists creates a scent that is an ironic comment on the figure of the oppressor. Weapon used against women (and not only women) becomes a toy in the artists hands: disarmed, bereft of its function, lasting only for a moment.  

Curatorial text: Michał Grzegorzek

Performance: Kaja Domińska, Pola Domińska, Donna Smela, Gabi Sułkowska

Special thanks to Berenika Partum, dr Robert Menzel (School of Chemistry, University of Leeds, UK), Kaja Domińska and Przemek Branas.

Partners:  ARTUM Foundation Ewa Partum Museum and Mo61 / Kaja Domińska – perfume design consultation