In the 60s a young American linguist thinks he discovered a living vampire woman in a Polish-Kasubian village in the middle of rural Ontario. 50 years later a Polish artist – Kinga Michalska – decides to find her. The search follows three stages: a visit to the supposedly haunted town, a casting for the role of the vampire woman, and a paranormal investigation into the politics of migration. The journey through Slavic folklore and misty landscapes brings the artist to confront the cycles of violence and oppression in which Michalska finds themself implicated. Who is the vampire? The Kashubian woman, the scientist, the migrants, the tourists, the audience, or the filmmaker? This layered story about various uninvited guests is told through a blend of documentary and fiction. The artist uses archival materials, performative gestures, campy aesthetics, and improvised reenactments.
Here, the vampire woman becomes a metaphor for migrant identity and otherness. Upiór and Guests is a critical reflection on the notions of power in ethnographic and documentary research.
Kinga Michalska is a Polish queer visual artist and filmmaker based in Tiohtiá:ke, Mooniyang, Montreal. Their work examines issues of memory, identity, displacement, and hauntings. They are interested in the periphery of who and what makes history: amateur historians, geological processes, small-town gossip, stranger encounters, and speculative fiction. They hold a BA in Cultural Studies from the University of Warsaw and an MFA in Photography from Concordia University. Their work has been shown in multiple exhibitions and film festivals in Canada, Poland, UK, Korea, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany.