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Bastard Artist in Promised Land
Umělec magazine
Year 2001, 4
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Bastard Artist in Promised Land

Umělec magazine 2001/4


Martin Zet | performance | en cs

"The following pages include a selection of the censored and corrected Original Messages by Gordian Piec, organizer (Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland), Redas Diržys, artist and one of the Martin Zets (Alytus, Lithuania) and Martin Zet, artist, another Martin Zet (Libušín, Czech Republic); a Poem by Hieronim Szczur; and Stills from the video shot by the beautiful-trouble Helen Sharp McBride, (Great Britain) at the FREE MARTIN ZET! press conference (4:30 p.m.) and the concert/festival (5.p.m.) in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland on May 11, 2001. The Music was written by Joanna Krysiak and performed by Adam Kozlowski and Mateusz Popielski (all from Poland).

A surprising quotation of uncertain authorship (Redas Diržys?), whose canonization within the ZCCA networks is being ambitiously pursued. It was heard for the first time during the FMZ! press conference on May 11, 2001 in Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland.

Let’s be part of the system!
Let’s respect and enjoy the hierarchy!
Let’s find the attractive qualities
of functioning structures!
Let’s find the attractive qualities
of paralyzing mechanisms!
The fatal mistake always made by fighters for freedom
is the desire to escape the system!
To break through the limits.
To be independent.

Let’s be as dependent as possible!
Let’s be overly dependent!
There is no freedom outside the limits!
Freedom is also part of the system!


Dear Martin Zet,

We kindly invite you to take part in the International Art Action Festival INTERAKCJE which will be held from 9th to 13th May 2001 in Piotrków Trybunalski (Poland). Please send us confirmation of your participation by Feb. 15, 2001.

Yours sincerely,

Gordian Piec, Coordinator of the Festival

(Sent: Friday, January 19, 2001 1:58 p.m.)

Dear Gordian Piec,
Please consider this to be a confirmation. It looks like at least one Martin Zet is coming to Piotrkow Trybunalski, maybe two.
Martin Zet
(Sent: Thursday, February 15, 2001 3:41 a.m.)

Dear Martin Zet,

It was nice to hear that you confirm your participation in INTERAKCJE 2001. Please send us short description of your performance with needed technical equipment and your personal text (important points in your work).

Best regards

Gordian Piec

(Sent: Wednesday, February 21, 2001 10:32 a.m.)

FREEDOM — the illusion of freedom, the magic formula of freedom, that is the leitmotif of this epoch. It includes the American dream as well as the ascetic traditions. The whole phenomenon of so-called contemporary art is just a fight, a struggle, a longing for freedom from convention, routine, craftsmanship, pattern, repetition, scheme, and social and business mechanisms. But the latter always come back, stronger, fully recovered after lost battles to overtake (again). The whole phenomenon of contemporary art is just one little part of the mania. The longing for freedom is the backbone of the whole movement of art nowadays. It is the power beyond the search for new styles or languages. To forget, be reborn, divorced from the past. To wake up with a shiny new genetic code.

Dear Gordian Piec,
A couple of important things:
1/ Monday in the evening I was in Piotrkow Trybunalski, spent there some time and I think I got an idea what to do. It should be (in an ideal case) a combination of installation and action.
2/ I need a little more time to develop the idea. I shall write soon, I think in one week to ask you to prepare something for me. Just a general question: do you think it could be possible to ask you to arrange some neon letters?
3/ Is there a ZOO in PT?
All for now
Martin Zet
(Sent: Saturday, March 9, 2001 4:36 p.m.)

Dear Martin Zet,

Regarding to your request — neon letters — please send me more information about it i.e. size, which of them etc. Unfortunately it will be impossible to arrange typical neon letters because it is too expensive for us; we can offer you light letters which look like neon. I will send you an example picture next week.
There is not a ZOO in PT.

Kind regards


(Sent: Friday, March 16, 2001 1:38 p.m.)

Dear Martin,
1. Now, I am sending you pictures showing the usage of this kind of “neon” lights. I am sure that you saw this kind of light tubes somewhere. This is gel/pvc tube with small glow-lamps inside. We can prepare letters in compliance with the instructions received from you about size, color (red, white, green, blue, yellow).
4. All of performances we want to concentrate in 3 places: small art gallery BWA, space belonging to a restaurant Bona (it is the cellar adopted for pub) and open space: Trybunalski Square.
Please give me your requirements regarding most suitable place for you.
Gordian Piec
(Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2001 10:58 a.m.)

Dear Gordian,
The lights look very good. I shall write you soon more instructions. Martin Zet will probably be two persons — if everything works out all right.
All the best
(Sent: Tuesday, April 10, 2001 3:15 p.m.)

Dear Redas,
It looks like it’s top time to speak about some ideas for INTERAKCJE 2001.
We visited the city on the way back from Helsinki and I took a couple of photos of suitable places in the city. It was dark and I didn’t use the tripod so it’s not so clear how the places look, but it doesn’t matter.
The original idea was to place FREE MARTIN ZET! in neon letters in some places in the city: the city hall, the church, the Palace of Justice, the prison, the cemetery, an art gallery (or Cultural Centre), the abstinents’ club (“STOWARZYSZENIE - KLUB ABSTYNENTA - nowa droga”) and the brothel. That is why I asked for the possibility of getting them. If you got the last response from Piotrków you can see that the suggested technology looks beautiful. (...) I think that if they are able to make just one FMZ! neon sign we could relocate it every evening — which of course would be our main contribution.
And we can choose the colours: red, white, green, blue, yellow!!!!
I also want to ask them to find a quick but serious composer to write something for children’s chorus — you see I didn’t forget. (...) I think you are the best conductor I can imagine. Do you have a tuxedo?
If you don’t like it or they don’t have a children’s choir for us (A brass band could also be possible — what do you think? Then maybe we could both make some horrible singing.), I have an excellent recording of one opera-like singing — there could be a huge projection with very loud sound on the main square.
Another dream: there should be a plane with the FMZ! banner 1 hour in the day time and/or maybe the last day with a neon banner at night!
Don’t forget the last words of the “ZETGIVING” visit:

(Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 9:24 p.m.)

The neon lights you had requested are beautiful!
“Vitamy Zet!”
(Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 5:27 p.m.)
[Witamy means: “Welcome” in Polish.]
you just sent a fucking serious email, vitamy is probably 1000x better
I must think about it plus the little pioneers with flowers of course (and too many Zets)
(Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 9:32 p.m.)

FREEDOM — In fact, if everybody is part of everybody else, or if you can say that everybody is God or everybody is the devil, you can easily say that everybody is Martin Zet. The problem is that not everybody is aware of it.
This dividing into two can be the beginning of dissolution within society, the starting point of a chain reaction leading to a situation in which everybody — every child, every woman, every man — will be aware of being (itself, herself or himself) Martin Zet, and this will become more important than all other qualities. More than color, nation, politics, race, religion (in alphabetical order), and so on. Hopefully this is the way to human brotherhood….
And this is only the first step. The movement must then spread to everything:
animals, plants, planets, galaxies, universes. Everybody from history and in the present, every person from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, from mythologies, theologies, fairy tales (in the same way as when I read about them), every stone, every verse of the universe will be Martin Zet fighting for the freedom of Martin Zet. In short, beautiful! Then I can retire, which means at the very least freedom from work.


Martin, Martin, shto ty nadelal? (a slightly corrected sentence uttered after the river performance in Plasy)

Writing “Witamy Zet” I keep in my mind as just remaking (just correcting — what we both like to do) of that what was already made “Witamy rok 2000” — so, if there is a possibility to have two screens — “FMZ” and “Witamy Zet” or “Witamy Mr. Zet” it could be amazing. I discovered beautiful tension between both sentences and also a few interesting situations:
1. “Witamy ...” on the roof of the Jail and “FMZ” on the church across the street or vice versa or both on the roof of the jail, or one on the roof ( “Witamy”) and “FMZ” at the entrance — all are very good.
2. “Witamy” on the roof of the Jail and “FMZ” on the justice house or City hall building, or KLUB ABSTINENTA.
Every version is good, but maybe the best solution is to put both screens somewhere close to each other.
About the choir — I like the idea, but I am not very good conductor at all and a tuxedo is not enough to be a conductor, but if they have a choir ... worth it to try. I think that I am not able to find some composer to write the piece, but there is a good possibility just to apply words to some other music. A brass piece is also good.
At least I would like to organise a press conference — you know my mania.
(Sent: Friday, April 13, 2001 10:19 a.m.)

Yesterday I was listening to brass music ... I’ve got an idea for the Poland piece. I think that is not a good idea to sing my/our/your self. Much better for me it seems to organize brass music concert dedicated to a Martin Zet’s Freeing. Also is important to note the detail that MZ is also taking part in the concert. And MZ is coming onstage chained and gagged and guarded by police. All the time he could sit down on a chair still guarded by police. At the end it wouldn’t be bad to ungag his mouth and to permit him to say something to the public — very keen speech about freedom and/or Zetification as only one way to attain the goal. He is talking in English but also on stage an interpreter is present, who translates quit another text: mostly that MZ is very surprised by the polish hospitality, he likes the audience etc., and he would like to come back. Here I am mainly interested in the subject of bad translation:
Free Martin Zet / Witamy Mr. Zet
With hope to meet you
(Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2001 12:12 a.m.)

Yes, Redas, maybe Martin Zet could at the end speak into the microphone with the mouth still taped (or gagged but I like tape more) — it means that it doesn’t matter what language he is speaking and what he is saying — just making some sound and passionate gestures (as passionate as the chains or rope allows).
The person translating will be really more of an interpreter than translator, because his speech would be really just his interpretation of Martin Zet’s sounds.
So a little shift from wrong translation to uncontrolled interpretation.
(Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2001 3:28 p.m.)

A taped mouth murmuring event is much better. (Charlie also shouted FMZ with taped mouth but the voice was mine — from the video piece for dutch queen Beatrix).
(Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 11:17 a.m.)

Dear Gordian,
(...) I am a bad boy —
prepare yourself for exhausting instructions.
Coming soon.
(Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2001 3:34 p.m.)

Dear Gordian,
even if I try to keep the easy image of the whole campaign, the subject is no less serious than the fight for freedom. The shortage of freedom. (...) Because of this I would appreciate serious pieces of art performed together with a kind of folk (brass music) and innocent-like (children) culture in a kind of merry, easy festival atmosphere.
Gordian, when I read in your message that you thanked me for simple requests I doubted that you opened the attachment with the description of the project. Here it is again:
(project description)

Benefit concert to support the fight for Martin Zet’s freedom
In the Middle Ages events like festivals (fairs) were typically accompanied by something educational: public punishments, executions, and so on. Or the other way around: The executions were accompanied by the festivals…
Therefore, we at the ZET CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS—Libušín have decided to carry an educational message to your festival. (Or we simply allowed your festival to surround our fight for M.Z.’s freedom.)
- Stage and lighting
- 2 microphones
- brass music band + conductor
- children’s chorus + conductor
- reciting children
- children musicians (flute, guitar, ...etc)
- 1 translator
- 2 real policemen
- 2 sets of handcuffs
- 1 gag (to be put into the mouth)
- 1 wide strip of tape (to tape the mouth)
- 2 convict uniforms (from the local prison)
- presence of local TV
- presence of state TV
- presence of local press
- presence of state press
- a room for a press conference
- 9 lighted signs (like neon) reading: FREE MARTIN ZET! two of the signs are made with 15 cm high letters (blue, yellow), four with 25 cm high letters (red, green, blue, yellow), three with 45 cm high letters (blue, red, yellow).
- 1 lighted sign: FMZ! With 45 cm high yellow letters
- 2 lighted signs: WITAMY MARTIN ZET! With 45 cm high letters (red and yellow)
- 1 airplane pulling a long banner reading: FREE MARTIN ZET! (red letters on white)
- 1 classical music composer
- 1 living poet
- 1 priest
- 1 mayor
- 1 exited presenter

From the very beginning of the festival (first, second day) the lighted signs FREE MARTIN ZET! will hang on (or in front of) key places in the city: City hall, the church, the Palace of Justice, the prison, the cemetery, art gallery (or Cultural Center), the KLUB ABSTYNENTA (abstinence club ) and a brothel. It’s really a pity there is not a zoo in Piotrkow Trybunalski.
On day “Z,” we suggest May 11, in the evening, at 6:30 p.m., there is a press conference about the problems of freedom in the world today; at 8:30 p.m. a concert starts on Trybunalski square. In the sky above the city an airplane flies overhead with a long banner reading FREE MARTIN ZET! for 30–40 minutes in the daytime, and/or maybe a neon-like banner at night! Above the stage hangs a lighted sign: FMZ! (the 45 cm yellow one) and on the stage the brass music band plays, interrupted by the children (not over 15 years old) from the local school(s) with chorus, poems, dancing, playing instruments and by official speeches about freedom by the mayor, the organizers of the festival, the priest, the judge, etc. On the stage during the whole performance 1 or 2 chairs with Martin Zet(s) in prisoners’ uniforms, handcuffs (or chains) on hands (and ankles?) one Martin with a gag in his mouth, the other with his mouth taped shut. Two policemen stand guard beside them. Before the end of the concert both of them (us) go up to one microphone (accompanied by the policemen) and try to speak, but unable to speak they (we) so just make sounds and gestures about the fight for freedom and about Zetification. The translator standing in front of the other microphone interprets their sounds as optimistic sentences, mostly saying that MZ is surprised by Polish hospitality, he likes the audience, etc, and he would like to come back again soon.
One last brass music composition follows and that’s it.
An exited entertainer presents the whole concert.
The performance should last about 40–50 minutes.
When it finishes the policemen will take both M.Z.s down from the stage, bring them to the nearest bar and buy them a couple of drinks. Inside the bar the glowing WITAMY MARTIN ZET! sign will be on the wall. The second “Witamy” sign will be placed somewhere in Libušín, CZ the location to be determined by Erika (the wife of one of the M.Z.s), after his arrival back home.
Part of the concert could be a composition composed specially for this occasion. I would prefer a canon composition (about 4 minutes) for a children’s chorus. The only text continuously repeated will be (surprise surprise): FREE MARTIN ZET!
And, if there is a living poet in Piotrkow Trybunalski, it would be fantastic to have a poem (in Polish) written on the subject and especially for this occasion.
If there is a possibility (and a wish) to include “new” media I do have a video recording of an opera-solo singing something similar (I mean the text), so we could project some huge and overly loud images outside (on the sky? buildings?) as a part of the ceremony.
The resulting atmosphere should be something between a benefit concert to support Nelson Mandela in the 1980s, the Sunday morning military brass music ensemble concerts in the gardens of the Prague castle in the 1960s and a primary school pageant.
Martin Zet
(Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2001 8:06 AM)

Dear Martin,
First of all - thank you for full description of your project which you send us in last email. We found it very, very interesting and we would like to organise it during our Festival. But unfortunately, we saw this description for the first time. Having read your last letter I understood that you had sent this description earlier. Earlier, we found only few unclear pictures with sign Free Martin Zet. That’s all. To sum up: as you know your ideal illusion of this kind of action requires a lot of preparation. So, please forgive us but we are not able to prepare everything for your performance on time, especially the week from 30.04 to 04.05.2001 is in Poland a kind of public holiday. We do not have enough time and also enough money.
Please think about a simpler version of your performance with minimal requirements.
What we can offer you:
- 1 lighted sign - FREE MARTIN ZET
- policemen, handcuffs, uniforms etc,
- press conference
- presence of local and regional media (TV, radio, press)
- music composition - she (composer) will try to compose a 10 minute composition with using computer sounds and natural instruments; maybe she will manage to play short live concert,
- a poem is being written by talented young poet
- flowers - no problem
and also maybe:
- children musicians (40%)
- priest (50 %)
- mayor (70%)
best regards
(Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2001 9:46 AM)


Freedom is a cruel aphrodisiac
(dedicated to Martin Zets’ fight for freedom)

“We like our tea boys but we want freedom more, so pay tribute and down on your knees ape men, it’s no use beating about the bush, here comes the kingdom of sorrow and the Child of Slavery.”

Robert Coover

On the bank of a muddy river I met Caravaggio
his quivering lips talked about a distant Paradise
“every breath is your freedom there
in the shadows of a big ash tree
Martin Luther King, Spartacus and Martin Luther
are making plans for combat against the System”;
he became silent but his eyes were still drinking shadows in Paradise
I fell asleep and I found myself in Paradise too
Goering, a naked squab,
cried between the tits of Catherine II
over the fate of dead Europe, Julius II the Pope
stroked Michelangelo’s cheeks
“the world does not tolerate oddness, boys cannot
couple with boys and they are not allowed to fondle
girls cannot kiss girls tenderly
between their legs
kiss me again and let’s spit on the System”
I was looking at them and my mind went into a frenzy of joy
I now felt what freedom was
I was running, jumping, howling and shouting like crazy
“hey you jerk, shut up
or you’ll be slapped in the face”
I stood motionless — the old man von Clausewitz
threatened me with his walking stick, suddenly my breath was stuck
in my throat, everybody looked at me
and even Goering the squab tore himself away from the tit
of Catherine II, “forgive me, I just love
this cruel System, this indifferent world
these ruthless schemes”
I said, and the light
appeared in my tears
the light that brings pain, faith and love;

“nostalgia and love are the keys to freedom
the more you love the freer you are —
Che Guevara confessed
— life reminds me
of the moss growing on a tree, we grow up and die
but it’s just a big fucking illusion”
Hieronim Szczur


Hallo Martin,
(...) very important and urgent!!!!!!!!!!!
I think that you took our prisons uniforms which you used during your show..
Unfortunately, we need them back. We must give back these uniforms to the jail!
I hope that you know how important it is for us.
Please send them by post as soon as you can.
Best regards
(Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2001 2:38 p.m.)

Dear Gordian!
Thank you for being so helpful and a good companion.
I must confess that I fulfilled my whole life’s dream of stealing something from a prison when I took the convict uniforms. (By the way I was ready to give them back if anybody remembers them before my departure.) I was enjoying the fact of having them a couple of days and then it wasn’t possible to obtain any pleasure from it. Then — on top of it — I got a letter from you.
OK, Gordian, I will not make any troubles: they are here waiting for you!
I think it is a good occasion to take a municipal car and girlfriend or friends and make a trip to Libušín. It is not so far + you are very welcome here + you can sleep in my place. What about next weekend? If it is urgent also possible before — in the working days — just let me know
all the best + looking forward to your visiting ZCCA—Libusin.
(Sent: Friday, May 18, 2001 8:44 a.m.)


Dear Gordian,
Have a look at attachments
I am overbusy until June 19th
But maybe you could come — there is something (art safari) June 16 afternoon at the outskirts of Prague (Bubec sculptor space) — if I dare to do there what I plan I think you could like it.
Place to sleep — no problem in my house.
And on top of it you could go back in the convict’s uniform
all the best
(Sent: Friday, June 08, 2001 10:31 p.m.)




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