In the city I felt like a useless stranger. Everybody was busy doing something. But the people looked glum. Someday they stood in one place for hours, in silence. They didn’t want to be with me. They didn’t even want to be with each other.
In 2010, Bartek Konopka and Piotr Rosołowski told the story of the Berlin Wall as seen through the eyes of the rabbits that lived around it (Rabbit à la Berlin, One World Romania 2010). Today, the same team tells the (half-fictional) story of Polish socialism as seen by a voodoo priest. In 1980, the story goes, Amon Fremon was invited by experimental theatre director Jerzy Grotowski to perform a voodoo ceremony as part of his ‘Theatre of Sources’. The Art of Disappearing starts from that documented moment of cultural encounter and unfolds as an atmospheric, ‘alternative’ recounting of Polish life during socialism. To do that, it draws loosely on the long history of Polish Catholic - Haitian religious syncretism (a consequence of Polish troop settlement in Haiti after they helped the Haitians gain their independence from French colonists), which saw central elements of Polish Catholicism, such as the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, ‘translated’ into no less central figures of Haitian voodoo: in this case, the spirit of Ezili Dantor. The film is a wildly eccentric blend of documentary and fiction, where the boundaries between the two are never clearly flagged, and the trope of the foreign traveller affords an original entry into the profound absurdity of the socialist world. “If this is the world of humans, what does the world of spirits look like?”, wonders the voodoo man as he strays into a quarter of communist blocks.