Polana Institute


It’s the year 1536. A handsome prophet is being torn apart with glowing pincers by local executioners. This is happening much to the delight of the bishop, who can now finally return to his city. The man’s corpse was put in a cage and hung high from the cathedral’s tower. Humiliated by the most severe punishment, Jan Bockelson – an Anabaptist prophet, the king of his commune in Münster, and earlier an actor and pander in Leyden – returns as a zombie to take his revenge.

After the bloody pogrom in 1535, some of his brothers and sisters in faith managed to escape to Poland – in those times one of the most tolerant places in Europe. They traveled from Münster to Warsaw where they founded Saska Kępa, bringing with them the knotted willow – now symbolic of the Masovian landscape – as well as the recipe for making gouda cheese, the techniques to create blue and white tiles, and many years later, raising the singer Anna German (her last name is not coincidental).

The zombie of Jan Bockelson, after taking in today’s populism and its processes, intends to revive the ideals of his former commune – naming it New Kingdom. While a ban on private property, the abolition of money, equality for all, and moral liberation all sound like fiction, they can be realized in art.

Mikołaj Sobczak (b. 1989) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in the Studio of Spatial Activities. He received a scholarship from the Universität der Künste in Berlin and has continued his studies at the Kunstakademie of Münster since 2015. In his work, he employs video art, painting and performance. His works have been shown among others at the Musuem of Modern Art in Warsaw, Dortmunder Kunstverein, Bozar in Brussels, and Whitechapel in London.