Michal
by Wojciech Tubaja

Michal by Wojciech Tubaja

2013
Video

These videos of two young male athletes, Andrzej and Michal, are an exploration of the male psyche, specifically symptoms of male hysteria. Historically, hysteria, or nervous breakdowns, have been associated with women and believed to be an indicator of innate fragility. Men were not believed to be as susceptible to hysteria as they were regarded to be more sane and sensible. Drawing from the Ancient Greek belief that physical beauty and mental health are correlated, Wojciech makes the two athletes, for whom physical activity is a philosophy of life, confront their weaknesses of the mind by reenacting the symptoms of male hysteria.

Wojciech believes that the male equivalent of hysteria can be depicted in the “human plank”, a position often used in fake hypnosis tricks by allegedly making the body cataleptic, in which the rigid body is suspended horizontally between two chairs. Yet the men fail to allow themselves to be hypnotized and thus to confront their mental weakness because they use the force of their muscles rather than that of their spirit to maintain their posture. The positions that may be believed to reflect mental weakness are not the true symptoms of hysteria. The videos suggest that the men’s minds are unaffected by forces exerted on the body, and that they display a refusal to be affected by the treatment through the mind.

“Michał” shows an attempt to confront the challenge of assuming a position of hypnosis, focusing on the physical effort.