Grupa Twożywo 


2006. Print on paper, 62 x 44 cm  

The series of 26 posters titled Herostrates visualizes Jean-Paul Sartre’s story Erostratus. In 2006, the posters were randomly placed on outdoor advertising mediums in the largest cities of Poland. Each of the posters featured a quote from Sartre’s work, one sentence from each chapter. The rest was a visual interpretation and discussion with Erostrates.

By selecting sentences from the work of the French philosopher, the artists construct an alternative narrative—a hypertext rooted in the original but not entirely identical to it. Short messages illustrated by Twożywo, similar to Sartre’s works, provoke thought, touch on timeless core values, and criticize the language of empty political and advertising slogans that have dominated the public arena since the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Warsaw – fot. Grupa Twożywo

Wrocław – fot. Grupa Twożywo

Mariusz Libel (Twożywo), „Initiation”  


From a certain—not overly absurd—point of view, the primary activity of a human being is selection. The sequence of decisions made leads precisely to the place where we find ourselves. As you, the reader, hold this text before your eyes, and we, the writers, create it. Whether it’s a chain of desires or a path of duty, it doesn’t matter much. Reasons neutralize consequences, possibilities dissolve into responsibility, leaving only the subtly contrasting and tranquil present moment.

The safe blanket of immutability, the calming rhythm of the herd; one can fall in love with this beauty so deeply. However, something persistently inclines towards breaking out of stagnation, the feeling of decay orchestrated, the spiral of everyday dispersion. The mentioned “somethings” always have some hidden subtext, some fear, some spasm, and tumult. So, many of us, voluntarily or forcibly, join the fight of noble good against diminished evil. We dissolve into the sweetness akin to natural humanism or we preserve the rusted tradition. Other people’s wars, in which we fight and suffer, help time pass smoothly, drowning out the cries of the metaphysical soul. Disarming Relativism. 


Much like the character of Erostrates, we have a specific plan. His idea, to be a firework in defiance of himself and to explode into history, much like his ancient ideal, has little in common with our goals. However, by giving him a voice, to some extent, we assist him in his intention. Why give voice to a fictional character with such impure intentions? Perhaps to expose the other dark circuit of thought, the one in which we are not exemplary elements of a functioning structure, where profanity and a sense of injury take over the helm. 


Do such contents directly result from the oft referenced socio-economic alienation that afflicts much of society? We dare to doubt it. Alienation, understood in terms of class worldview, reduces the living thought of the individual to a system of forces on the plane of materialism. Just like behaviorism, which views the causes of action as solely reactions to the environment. Conclusions obliterate empty shells – Nihilism, as a principle manifesting itself through anomie, passivity, or a sense of meaninglessness, finds no counterweight or comprehensive approach to this problem. Culture tends to address individual symptoms rather than the root causes of such a condition. It is for this reason that this text was chosen. It transports one into the furthest recesses of the human spirit, where reside, amongst others, the evils of terrorism and anti-humanism 

Gdańsk – fot. Grupa Twożywo

Kraków fot. Grupa Twożywo

Zielona Góra – fot. Grupa Twożywo

First Time

Working on someone else’s text is something we hadn’t tried before. The goal was not only to shape the text into forms or the story into images, but we also wanted to add a bit of ourselves, to utilize the universal potential inherent in this short story. Something between an illustration and a poster was created, perhaps with an emphasis on the latter form, which is closer to us. 

Poznań – fot. Grupa Twożywo

Poznań – fot. Grupa Twożywo


Several years ago, Wojtek Pakier suggested that we develop the graphic design of a contemporary text chosen by us. After a short time, we concluded that no contemporary text met our needs, and we suggested Sartre’s story. Together with Wojtek, we started designing and brainstorming. Years passed carelessly, work progressed very slowly and sporadically. Last year, thanks to the help of all the people who became involved in this project, we made significant progress. Despite various obstacles that arose during the course of our endeavour and certain ambiguities that we couldn’t avoid, the project came to fruition. 

One final note: before, during, or after viewing the projects, we strongly recommend reading the story Erostrates from J.P. Sartre’s collection The Wall. 

Photos and text courtesy of Grupa Twożywo 

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