In September, a sculpture depicting the deceased head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II, over a “bloody” pool with a meteorite in his hands appeared in the Polish capital. The composition called Poisoned well was installed in front of the National Museum, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the pontiff’s birth. The sculpture was the “artistic response” of the Polish sculptor Jerzy Kalina to the installation created by Maurizio Cattelaу, in which the pontiff was depicted lying on the ground under a meteorite that struck him. This artifact caused a very mixed reaction from the public. Thus, some commentators said that the work reflects the ultra-Catholic views of the current Polish government. In this party’s opinion, this sculpture symbolizes Poland’s transition to a new type of authoritarianism.
One of the critics stated that Poisoned Well represents a dangerous trend in Polish art and culture: using contemporary art as bait to foment hostility toward minorities. Thus, these points of view reflect a negative attitude towards this artifact. According to another point of view, the statue symbolizes the revival of religious values in Poland. Supporters of this position believe that the country needs to strengthen the influence of the church in society. Those who hold this position believe that the statue is a “warning against multiplying forms of red revolution”; it is a call to return to the “clean well” or, in this case, Polish Catholicism. Thus, this artifact has both negative and positive reviews.
Of course, the interpretation of this artifact influenced the arguments of each side. People who have a positive attitude towards this artifact associate a stone raised above the head with the Pope’s power and the revival of religious values. In their opinion, the red water around the Pope symbolizes challenges and threats to society’s spiritual sphere. Thus, in any element of the statue: the Pope’s pose, his face, the raised stone, and the red water, people see positive aspects. In turn, critics of this sculpture associate red water with blood and violence. They also drew attention to the expression on the Pope’s face captured in the sculpture. In their opinion, the Pope’s face reflects anger, spite, and malice; and hatred is reflected in his eyes. Thus, like many other artifacts, the statue Poisoned well-received opposite public assessments since everyone’s opinion depends on the subjective interpretation of the object.