Hamburg-based artist Mariola Brillowska is a lot of things. A poet. A filmmaker. A Polish immigrant. Performance artist. A brilliant animator. She’s a High Priestess of Transgression. In her short, animated films you can catch glimpses of the territory those who came before her mined: David Cronenberg’s biological horrors, Gary Panter’s eye-popping punk culture art, Bill Griffith’s happily de-evolved mutants, Herrman Nitsch’s deep reed organic mutilations and Lydia Lunch’s feminist howls at the moon. Here’s a look at a few of her animated shorts.
Grabowski, Haus des Lebens (1990). The first thing that grabs you is the style of animation. Saturated, bleeding colors drip off the screen. Male and female genetalia sprout and pop up and off everywhere. The characters resemble The Draags from Fantastic Planet, if they were crudely drawn on a bathroom stall. They’re grotesque caricatures with no eyes or noses, only a mouth; these are true talking heads. In the majority of Brillowska’s shorts, it’s not the face that matters. Often they’re just empty holes. It’s the gigantic cocks and lush red pussies that handle most of the action. You see, Grabowski is a Polish immigrant in Germany who’s in the fuck-for-a-grave business. When he’s not sucking down his beloved Polish cigarettes, he’s exchanging fluids in his mortuary-cum-fuckpad with bereaved widows and daughters, promising an empty plot for their recently deceased. He thumbs his non-nose at his Catholic upbringing one too many times, and if the upset relatives of his dalliances don’t get to him first, the guilt just might be his undoing. Winner of the Grand Prize in Oberhausen in 1991.
Eryk in Sexile (1992). A deft look at sterilization? A glance inside Pandora’s Box? Eryk is a lonely mutant. He meets streetwalker Lola (a name that pops up in a lot of Brillowska’s works, leads me to believe that it maybe a short anagram of her name - mariOLA brilLOwska.) Brillowska describes this short as (loosely translated) “Eryk has led a empty life until he met Lola. She had perfection itself. Her eye was music, it’s heart is the noblest part of her body”. But marriage between a lonesome malcontent and a sentimental whore is not all that it’s cracked up to be. Eryk and Lola’s condom-receptacle like heads give you a glimpse of what’s to come, and what’s not wanted. The theme of despondent family life will figure in many of her works to come.
Die Contr-Contras (1996). Die-Contr-Contras marks a shift of sorts in Brillowska’s cinematic narratives. In her earlier works, there’s a story to be told inside the ghastly carnival of her animation. This piece marks the crossroads between her earlier style and the pure visual experimentation of her more recent works, and considering her background, is highly personal. It starts off with a short intro of the history of Slav and Teuton relationships - long story short, they fucked like rabbits to insure their lineage, their offspring are The Contr-Contras, beautiful slim subjects standing at 5 meters (that’s 16 motherfuckin’ feet!). They are the true inhabitants of Gdansk (Danzig), the Polish city off the Baltic coast. We flash forward to the 20th century, and Gdansk is a bustling, electric city, it’s as if Tokyo’s circuit boards meshed with the future America of Mike Judge’s Idiocracy. Stan and Rita are a stick figure couple and fresh parents, Rita just literally dropping their newborn son out of her gargantuan hole. Pizza is both delicacy, currency and deity here, and as soon as the baby is born, the afterbirth is whipped up into a piping hot pizza to be on display in a museum. As the boy grows, his parents can’t cope with family life and literally rot and starve away, no matter how much their son wants to bring them together. Felix Kubin of the futuristic noise band Klangkreig, provides the pounding soundtrack.
Lola Allein Zu Haus (2006). The visuals have evolved, the bleeding neon aesthetic is clearly done on some bastardized Microsoft Paint program, and this one is a doozy. I want to say this is an ode to Tim Burton in a most perverse manner. Again, a lovely redheaded beauty named Lola is the main character here, and Lola lives with a Frankenweenie Bull Terrier canine. Hunkered down and hidden in the closet is Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Let’s get to the point - there’s dogfucking going on here. Tempted with a tasty Scooby Snack treat placed in Lola’s Teutonic twat, the dog goes to town. We have 69. We have doggy face-sitting. We have Lola quivering and squirming with delight. We have at least a dozen fluids being discharged here. All the while Johnny Wonka is buzzed out and silently dealing with beastialy in the next room. At just over two minutes, it’s over before you know it. This should have been a feature. Schlockmeisters Tim and Eric wish the could be this awesome.
Brillowska’s work over the years is both beautiful and perversely poignant. Her style and aesthetic has been subliminally seeping into the pop zeitgeist; like the aforementioned Tim and Eric with their ramshackle simple animations. The kitsch toy-shelf stylings of graphic designers Carne and Queso unknowingly owe a debt to her, and you can see her stamp all over the “Gucci Goth”, pizza obsessed hipsters working on their already outdated Witchhouse demos. Fuck “Bootleg Bart”, I want more sickly stick figure families spilling their guts and semen.