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ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE EAST: PIOTR UKLAŃSKI

A man in a museum, surrounded by a crowd: Suddenly, he is swallowed in flames, as abruptly as a flaring match. A thirty-second performance, Untitled (The Full Bum), 1998, might stand as the emblem of Polish artist Piotr Uklański 's artistic credo: It's an image underlaid with the memory of real-life self-immolations executed at moments of political desperation. But here, safely contained in the museum, it becomes pure stunt, pure spectacle—an event of pure horror distilled, through innumerable incendiary images in Hollywood action movies, into pure entertainment. The Full Bum is an explosive yet ephemeral act that devolves into nothing more than a brief thrill in the viewer's mind. As Uklański said in a recent magazine interview: “In the end what happens is that we end up looking at things with our mouths open, fascinated, regardless of what we watch, whether it's a Nazi flick or

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