Text by Abigail Best
“There is a childlike, emotional, romantic tone...a cross between ‘milky innocence’ and ‘milky perverseness’,” artist Pat Dudek told me, speaking about his newest audiovisual project, Milkbaby; “In fact, there’s no better description of myself.”
Indeed, the trailers and teasers for Milkbaby reflect this dichotomy of innocence and perverseness, putting Dudek’s androgynous, romantic persona in the context of a surrealist world of latex and leather. For Dudek, this is more than an artistic statement: it is a carefully choreographed act of rebellion against traditional values and homogeneous thinking.
While some may consider the content of Milkbaby to be taboo, Dudek wants to challenge the idea that such things should be thought of as perverse in the first place. “There's nothing demonic in perversity,” he explained, “It may even be angelic if it comes out of love.” Dudek cites the constructs of our patriarchal society that label things like queer love and nonbinary gender identities as perverse, and how legalistic or religion-based thinking are real causes of social aggression against diversity. He wants to create work that questions the very idea of perversion, seeking to show beauty in the things that may initially make someone squeamish. “I'm trying to show the boundless, childlike simplicity of these values,” Dudek said of his philosophy, based on love and acceptance of diversity and a personal obligation to help spread that love.
Dudek’s intent isn’t to portray himself as some sort of sage, giving out advice that he thinks others should follow. Portraying the titular “milkbaby,” he wants to have little distance between himself and the viewer of his work, styling himself as the naive recipient of his own message. Rather than having to grapple with a philosophical puzzle, Dudek hopes his audience will connect with his work on an instinctual and emotional level. This also means that Milkbaby isn’t a clinical or literal parable about sex and sexuality. While Dudek wants to de-stigmatize the act of queer sex, it is about more than that. “Milkbaby is not dedicated to the fans of emotionless fucking,” he explained, “this is very romantic audiovisual set and it's all about feelings and emotions. Nothing here is just kinky.”
Growing up in Warsaw and now studying at the Warsaw Film School, Dudek has become very involved with the counter-culture scene in his hometown. He has helped organize events such as “Indiscretion: clitoris/collage/counterculture”, a one-night performative exhibition showcasing artists working on women's rights, ethnic and sexual minority rights, and non-normative lifestyles. He has also participated in events with other queer artists and feels that these events do some good for the community. “I was very proud that such a queer-art event could bloom here, in the heart of Warsaw,” he said. “For me 'queer' means freedom, any activity associated with the simple assumption that everyone should be free and respected. Queer is all about equality. When someone calls me a 'queer artist' it's like being called a ‘good person'.”
For updates on Pat and Milkbaby, follow on instagram and his website.