OLA KORBAŃSKA THE FINGER
Can six-fucking the system be a thing? What can an extra finger add to an apparently obsolete toolbox of resisting against patriarchy or homophobia? Polish artist Ola Korbańska argues there is no need for us to grow anything else, except for—perhaps—bravery and some guts in order to overcome our collective struggles. For Korbańska, “the future has five fingers, open-minded heads, and bodies dancing together in solidarity.”
A MIDDLE FINGER FOR THE NON-AUDACIOUS
It all began one Christmas Eve in Copenhagen, when Letitia came up with a brilliant idea to make henna tattoos using a set she bought at the corner shop, along some rather suspiciously looking Asian snacks that we never really consumed. Instead, we cooked some Polish delicacies, ate and drank in the background of a non-stop stream of jokes to finally give up and move to the living room.
With our bellies full of dumplings, bigos, and wine, listening to a reggae song about a rowing fisherman, we sat on a tiny green sofa and set up our tattoo studio. Frankie disappeared, ostensibly talking to his girlfriend on the phone, but I believe the real reason was to avoid the ink. After some innocent anchors, mermaids, hearts enclosing the names of lovers, and a #judging (a statement celebrating our gossipy nature), she asked me to draw her a six-fuck.
It is a “fuck you” hand but with six fingers, I drew it once accidentally and I think it is a wonderful concept.—she said.
The concept is indeed wonderful: it looks like a normal fuck, until you realise something disturbing and begin to count. The classic finger, according to a reliable source, is performed by showing the back of a hand that has only the middle finger extended upwards. But in the case of six fingers, which one is actually the middle one? It is impossible to actually tell—it softens the gesture, turning it into a milder signal. It seems like a perfect half measure for our times when signing an online petition with one click has become a form of resistance.
A six-fuck is a solution to all the problems caused by innate propriety. This is the middle finger you always wanted to give to patriarchy, homophobia, or fossil fuels, but you never had the guts, cause you are too polite and kind, and you believe that mutual respect is the key for a healthy and happy society. You admire Ai Weiwei for showing his middle finger, maybe you are even jealous of his braveness—you would also like to try this, but some part of you wouldn’t allow it, as a hidden prude sleeping inside suddenly awakens and takes over. Your inner prude will not allow you.
It’s different with a six-fuck. You could even get it tattooed for real and still not lapse into self-judgement. What’s more, shall a potential mother-in-law be ever inquiring about it, it would be easy to point out that it is actually not an obscene drawing—it consists of six fingers, the actual middle finger cannot be established, it is a joke. Ah, indeed—she would say, relieved that her boy is not dating some kind of a rebel. Meanwhile, work on your inner prude, exercise him, stretch him a bit, so he’s not so stiff—that way, you will be able to use your own hand, all five fingers performing an obscene gesture whenever your civic freedom is in danger.
MIDDLE FINGER 2.0
HOW THE SIX-FUCK BECAME
AN UNBRIDLED FIVE-FINGER BEAST
In 2020, due to various political and social events, the level of bitterness and anger got really high. The sleeping inner prude felt uncomfortable, he started to complain, had headaches (moral-hangovers as we say). However, he stayed.
On October the 22nd, the Constitutional Court in Warsaw made a decision, as a consequence of which, the access to abortion in Poland will be even more limited than it had been, breaking fundamental human, women’s, and reproductive rights. The last straw broke the camel’s back. The prude woke up and left immediately, taking the sixth finger with him. There wasn’t even any discussion or a goodbye note. The door shut behind him and I am not sure if he’ll ever manage to come back. There are only five fingers left now and they are, I have to say, quite fit.
Thousands of people took to the streets to join a wave of peaceful protests. The use of harsh words and gestures (for many, previously unimaginable in a public space), bodies dancing a traditional dance of polonaise, or jumping to Erik Prydz’s song, became a new formula of resistance. I saw a banner at one of the protests saying even introverts came here. The breaking point for our ability to show the finger has come. At first timidly, hidden in the darkness of the pockets, slowly going out encouraged by the crowd, to finally become an unbridled five-finger beast sharp like a Swiss knife. We discovered with friends that, together with a pocket-finger, it is a common thing to chant the rhythmic protest slogans (even these with courses) in one’s head while walking. It starts unconsciously, provoked by the beat of steps, especially on the way back home from the protest, but finally also during the walk with the dog, on the way to the shop, work, even at home. People silently exclaiming words of support for women’s rights. Collective, casual, mute protest.
I discussed the ideas for the banners with my father and he said you can create whatever you want out of it, you are a free person. Even if the prude was gone, I had some difficulties drawing the classic, original, finger, but eventually, I did it. That way, captured on paper, the lack of a sixth finger became official—that means no doubts, half-measures. For the sake of values we trust, we unleashed ourselves from the propriety. The future has five fingers, open-minded heads, and bodies dancing together in solidarity.