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11 III

25 IV

O b e c n o ś ć/ 2016
B r a k/

Wsp ó ł c ze ś ni ar t yś ci
o ż yd owskie j War s zawie

P r e s e n c e/
A b s e n c e/
Tr a c e s

Conte m p orar y Ar tist s

on J ewish War s aw
Jolanta Gumula –
7 Wstęp
9 Introduction

Ewa Chomicka & Agnieszka Pindera –

11 Obecność/ Brak/ Ślady. Współcześni artyści o żydowskiej Warszawie
23 Presence/ Absence/ Traces. Contemporary Artists on Jewish Warsaw

42 Adam Lipszyc W gardle: nic. Kilka uwag o pracy Luísy Nóbregi
In the Throat: Nothing. Some Remarks on the Work
of Luísa Nóbrega


58 Ewa Klekot Zerwana ciągłość pamięci i rzeczy
A Broken Continuity of Memory and Objects


72 Katarzyna Słoboda Ciało/ pamięć/ powtórzenie
Body/ Memory/ Repetition


86 Joanna Ostrowska Polskie burki — Polish Bourekas
Polskie Burki — Polish Bourekas

100 Iwona Kurz Przeniknąć do chwili. O portretach Jasmine Bakalarz
Growing into the Moment. On the Portraits
of Jasmine Bakalarz

106 ITAY ZIV –

112 Paweł Smoleński Powrót do mamy
Come to Mama


126 Dariusz Brzostek Lilia jest lilią, jest lilią, jest lilią…? Głos(y) ciała
A Lily is a Lily, is a Lily, is a Lily…? Voice(es) of the Body

P r e s e n c e/ A b s e n c e/ Tr a c e s
Co n t e m p o r a r y A r t i s t s o n J ew i s h Wa r s a w

H i s t o r i c a l m u s e u m a s a c e n t r e f o r c r e a t i ve wo r k
� The exhibition Presence/ Absence/ Traces. Contemporary Artists on Jewish
Warsaw comprises works by artists participating in thirteen artistic resi-
dencies at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Coming from Po-
land, Israel, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Turkey, North and South
America as well as other places, they adopted various approaches to Jewish
heritage and cultural diversity of the Polish capital, offering a polyphonic
reflection on the city’s past and present.
� All displayed works come from the period of 2014–16 when POLIN Museum
was still being invented literally and discursively — in terms of actual space
of the new building as well as the final character of the institution. Dedi-
cated to 1,000 years of the history of Polish Jews, the core exhibition opened
in October 2014. The building, however, was made available to the public 18
months earlier. Self-directed questions about what path to take, what kind
of narration to adopt and how to make it multi-voiced, about the role of art
in updating history or the strategy of compiling a collection, and finally
about the instruments of interpretation to be chosen provided a context
for the project of artistic residences.
� Works presented at the exhibition were selected in an open contest — art-
ists from all over the world could apply. They were asked to come up with
an artistic commentary on Jewish and multicultural heritage in Warsaw. It
was a diversity of views that we were after; we were also curious to see which
subject matters would appeal to the artists, both those of Jewish origin,
whose family history was related to Poland in one way or another, as well
as those from different cultures. As a consequence, selected pieces reflect
themes deemed significant by their authors. What is Jewish identity? What
is the identity of Warsaw as a centre of Jewish life? What picture of the city
can we get from collective or individual memory; is it different today? What
kinds of narration are produced by the politics of memory? Who has the
right to Jewish heritage? What clichés and stereotypes affect it? And, finally,
who can be seen as ‘‘a local” here?
� Artistic strategies employed by the artists whose works are displayed at the
exhibition differ from those that dominated Polish art in the 1990s and
the first decade of the 21st century.!(a) As the Holocaust had been absent from

a See, e.g., R. Jakubowicz, “will it be?”, Jednodniówka MWW, 29 May2015.

Presence/ Absence/ Traces

public space before, an eruption of works devoted to the subject could be

observed; it was explored to such an extent that some spoke of overproduc-
tion of Holocaust-related art.!(b) Obviously, traumatic past keeps affecting
Jewish-oriented artistic activities, and yet — judging, for instance, by the
work of Yael Bartana!(c) — it seems that their direction has been slightly
modified. The recurring tension between memory and oblivion as well as
the problem of anti-Semitism begin to give way to identity-related questions
and subjective experience of what is Jewish. The third generation is taking
the stage and it is personal motivation that tends to drive their work. The
Presence/ Absence/ Traces exhibition features works by Jasmine Bakalarz —
a granddaughter of Polish Jews who emigrated to Canada and Argentina, or
Itay Ziv — an Israeli who decided to carry out an autobiographical project
focused on the process of obtaining a Polish passport.
� The exposition centres around three concepts: ‘presence,’ ‘absence,’ and
‘traces’ which are going to be discussed separately in this text, although
they co-exist in the majority of exhibited works. “Jewish Warsaw” is the
starting point but, in some works, it triggers universal questions which
reach far beyond the local context.!(d) Produced by individual artists or
artistic groups, the works utilize metaphors, oral history or documentary
techniques, thus combining creative practices and research strategies. They
constitute an interesting set in terms of form as well, involving a wide range
of aesthetic modes of expression, from conventional photographic portraits
to new media.
� The residency program imposed certain rules on its participants: their stay
in Warsaw lasted three weeks and was preceded by research and conceptual
work; works were often produced after the residency had ended. The three
weeks in Warsaw were devoted to extensive exploration of a chosen subject
matter as well as gathering of materials (photos, stories, recordings), and
collaboration with local communities. The entire process revolved around
cooperation: it assumed exchange of knowledge and experience between
artists and curators, as well as between artists and local communities.

b The tendency is commented on, for instance, in a work by Oskar Dawicki — a pencil
inscription on a sheet of paper saying Nigdy nie zrobiłem pracy o Holokauście [I've Never
Made Work about Holocaust] (2009). The theme is often present in collective exhibitions,
see, i.a.:, Sztuka polska wobec Holokaustu [Polish Art and the Holocaust] (Jewish Historical
Institute, 2013), Polska — Izrael — Niemcy. Doświadczenie Auschwitz [Poland — Israel —
Germany. The Experience of Auschwitz] (MOCAK, 2015).
c It is worth mentioning that the events in the second part of Yael Bartana’s trilogy
(i.e. Wall and Tower, released 2009) take place at the location where POLIN Museum
now stands. Founders of “the first kibbutz in Europe,” featured in the artist’s movie, could
look out towards the Monument to the Ghetto Heroes visible from the room in which
Presence/ Absence/ Traces is exhibited.
d Due to its subject matter and because of the fact that it presents the perspectives of many
internationally active artists, the exhibition establishes a connection of sorts with the last
Vot ken you mach? exhibition which was displayed in 2015 at Wrocław Contemporary Museum.

Ewa Chomicka & Agnieszka Pindera

� The collaboration and involvement of local communities (people of Warsaw,

people living in the Muranów district, representatives of Jewish communities)
took various forms.
� Depending on the nature and subject of their works, some artists decided
to invite local people to participate in art workshops or the very process of
creating the work, others based their work entirely on interactions, relations,
and conversations with such people. Some of the projects were carried out
in collaboration with local performers (dancers, musicians, actors), other with
people interested in certain forms of expression (performance arts, audio proj-
ects), yet other with the participation of people from specific communities
(Warsaw Jews, people living in the vicinity of Karmelicka 2B, teenage girls from
the Social Therapy Centre for the Youth in Rudzienko).!(e)
� We know that some of the relationships thus established are still maintained;
Eliane Esther Bots, a Dutch artist who made a short film with the partici-
pation of Warsaw residents in which their family stories were recounted
through items, keeps visiting the protagonists of her work. Difficult ques-
tions and discussions reappear in yet another way, not only because of people
living in nearby blocks of flats, stirred by Hubert Czerepok’s installation
titled Fence of Hatred, located at General Jan Jura-Gorzechowski square.
� The thirteen residencies became a record of thirteen types of artistic par-
ticipation — strategies towards involving the people of Warsaw on different
levels and cooperating with them. A considerable number of possible anal-
yses is thus made possible — ranging from a “ladder of participation,”!(f)
via relationships developing between the artist and people taking part in
a given project, to discussions about whether active culture can be genuine
or is it merely ostensible, as well as redistribution of authority. There is also
a vital question about the primacy of criteria (aesthetic, relational, ethical,
other), particularly if the discussed works are seen in the context of rela-
tions between art and different forms of involvement — educational activity,
research work, or activism (artivism). Artistic residencies at POLIN Museum
are focused on adult education — how (if at all) does this affect curatorial
strategies and displayed pieces? (“[A]ny artistic activity centred around educa-
tion, activism, etc. often ends up as both poor art and a poor way of triggering
social changes” — Claire Bishop claims only to ask what would happen if an at-
tempt was indeed made at comparing works of participatory art to “experimental
e Due to the fact that artists usually limited their interactions to one social group, it could
be said that their works and the relations they established were more typical for projects
performed outside of the city, see: J. Sandell, Artistic Residencies in Relation to Local
Communities — Political Instrumentalisation or Yet Unrealized Possibilities?
accessed on: 21 October 2016.
f See S. R. Arnstein, “Drabina partycypacji” [Ladder of Participation], transl. J. Bożek, [in:]
Partycypacja. Przewodnik Krytyki Politycznej, J. Erbel, P. Sadura (ed.), (Wydawnictwo Krytyki
Politycznej, Warszawa 2012).

Presence/ Absence/ Traces

projects in the fields of education or activist campaigns which successfully caused

a political change.”!(g)).
� Such questions and dilemmas form the background to all residency projects
and are not extensively discussed in this publication. They are going to be
examined more closely during meetings accompanying the exhibition, and
particularly during a seminar entitled Aktualizacja historii, eksperyment,
partycypacja [Updating History, Experiment, Participation]. This publication
contains critical texts dedicated to particular residencies, thus revealing yet
another aspect of their collaborative nature. Invited experts — including
culture experts, philosophers, journalists, anthropologists, historians and
curators — analyse the methods and practices of particular artists, often
having discussed the principles underlying their work with them and, at
times, exerted a considerable impact on their activity. The texts were often
written before a given work was completed, constituting an important mes-
sage for artists who have just finished their residency. Today, they offer us
an insider’s view of particular projects.
� For the team working on the project, both the Presence/ Absence/ Traces …
exhibition (11 March — 25 April 2016) and this publication serve as a sum-
mary and conclusion of a stage involving an attempt to provide an artistic
commentary on Jewish and multicultural heritage in the city of Warsaw.
Different perspectives of more than ten artists from various countries were
meant to make it possible to examine the subject on a more open and critical
level.!(h) The Presence/ Absence/ Traces … exhibition probably offers the only
opportunity to view the residencies in their complete form; in other venues,
these works will mainly be displayed as individual pieces. Some of them will
be added to the POLIN Museum collection.

P r e s e n c e / A b s e n c e / Tra c e s
� For this exhibition, we once again highlighted the three categories — ‘pres-
ence,’ ‘absence,’ and ‘traces’ — which were to be used as points of departure
for works submitted in our open contest. Upon a closer look, it becomes
clear that the multi-faceted works, rooted in the local context but also based
on personal motivations of their creators, share a certain set of issues, com-
plementing or entering into dialogue with one another. Referring to the
categories presented to the artists at the initial stage makes it possible to

g Quote from: Ćwiczenia z choreografii społecznej. Interview with Claire Bishop conducted by
Magda Szalewicz, “Notes.Na.6.Tygodni,”
z-choreografii-spo%C5%82ecznej, access: 21 January 2016. See also: C. Bishop, Artificial
Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship, (Verso, 2012).
h The residency programme was carried out as part of the Faces of Diversity project — a series
of events promoting education on cultural, ethnic, religious and social diversity, creating
an environment for pondering over prejudices and stereotypes, and establishing a platform
for inter-cultural dialogue. There will be more artistic residencies in the future and they will
pertain to different subjects.

Ewa Chomicka & Agnieszka Pindera

identify and systematize those characteristic features of their works which

are particularly important within the context of their presence at the exhi-
bition as well as in the publication.

1. «being at a certain place, at a certain time»
2. «being active somewhere, making one’s existence known in an area or field»

� Works of Eliane Esther Bots, Jasmine Bakalarz, Itay Ziv and Maya Schweizer
focus on the search for traces and decoding possible contexts for Jewish
presence in today’s Warsaw. What matters for these artists are physical and
symbolic aspects of that presence.
� The exhibition opens with a short movie by Eliane Esther Bots, a Dutch
film-maker, entitled We Can’t Come From Nothing. During her stay in
Warsaw, the artist held a number of interviews with local people who told
her their family stories, thus revealing bits and pieces of the Jewish facet of
the city’s history. Who were the interlocutors who agreed to take part in her
project? Mostly, they were members of Jewish families (e.g. Kazimierz — a de-
mographer striving to break the Holocaust down into scientific facts, or Dorota —
an actress who plays Jewish women in movies about the Holocaust in an attempt
to come to terms with a family tragedy), people whose family members had
helped Jews or signed the Volksliste, as well as refugees (a Muslim family of
fugitives from the Chechen War) living in an apartment which used to belong
to a Jewish family.#(i) Bots asked them to bring objects bearing traces of the
past to the filming location.
� Similarly to other artists-in-residence at POLIN Museum, Eliane Esther
Bots likes to makes use of oral storytelling and accounts of people who have
witnessed historical events. Consequently, members of contemporary com-
munities found in Warsaw, including Jewish ones, are physically present in
her work.
� Jasmine Bakalarz also based her work on the Jewish people of Warsaw,
deciding to construct a portrait of the local community which would be
both collective and individual. She took a number of photographs of Jewish
people living in Warsaw nowadays with the intention to demonstrate the
uniqueness of their community and the values they hold. The artist and
POLIN Museum encouraged everyone to take part but it was mostly women
who attended. Bakalarz used a medium format analogue camera and took
most of the photos at her models’ homes as well as at the Lauder-Morasha
School Complex, where she photographed the youngest participants in the
project. The cycle#(j) entitled Warsaw Portraits was displayed in a public
space — on hoardings in the districts of Wola and Śródmieście.
i The following people took part in the film project: the Adajew family, Dorota Kutyła,
Kazimierz Latuch, Jagna Kofta, Jadwiga Przybylska-Wolf, Andrzej Wolf, Jan Muśnicki.
j The cycle includes portraits of Lea, Magdalena, Shoshana, Justyna and Zuzanna.

Presence/ Absence/ Traces

� Bakalarz, an artist from Buenos Aires whose grandparents used to live in

the South of Poland, also travelled to where her family had once lived (the
towns of Pacanów and Klimontów). She took a series of photographs there
which constitute a private, and autobiographical to some extent, addition
to her Warsaw cycle.
� Bots and Bakalarz belong to the so-called third generation, and so do Itay Ziv,
an Israeli artist, and Maya Schweizer from France. Allusions to heritage are
particularly distinct in Ziv’s film entitled Come to Mama, made by the artist
during his stay in Warsaw. Like in his previous works, he addresses the
question of identity — both his own and collective. During his residency,
the artist, who had once tried to obtain a Polish passport, managed to reach
people directly involved in carrying out procedures related to confirming
Polish citizenship. Representatives of state administration, employees of the
Genealogy Department at the Jewish Historical Institute, and employees of
legal offices agreed to meet him.!(k) This is yet another work by the artist in
which he himself appears in front of the camera to fill in the blanks in nar-
ration. His personal monologue links what the other people in the film say
but it seems to be insufficient to answer the questions Ziv poses in search
of his own social and national identity.!(l)
� The invited artists also inspect the symbolic aspect of Jewish presence in
public space and in contemporary discourse. Maya Schweizer’s Texture of
Oblivion takes as its subject forms of commemoration — representation and
structures of Jewish presence and absence. The artist takes up the problem
of memory culture by means of analysing monuments located where the
ghetto used to be. Erected in the period from right after the war until now,
those monuments testify to the changing nature of Jewish presence and
memory of the Holocaust in public debate in Poland.

1. «the non-existence of something»
2. «the fact of being without something, lack»

� Absence can be considered as the antithesis of presence, and it is absence

that became the focus of the work by Luísa Nóbrega, Aslı Çavuşoğlu,
Małgorzata Kuciewicz and Simone De Iacobis. Two strategies for discussing

k The following people took part in the movie: Agata Ewertyńska, Mariusz Sora,
Matan Shefi, Michał Wiśniewski, Piotr Cybula, and others.
l Several of Ziv’s earlier works focused on the issue of his own identity, including
A Documentary about the Holocaust in which other members of his family also appear.
Some light is shed on their attitude towards Itay’s search in an interview with his
grandmother: “Do not ask us anything and don’t start to make a movie and the Holocaust
has a million movies already.” The movie on which Ziv worked in Warsaw, entitled Come
to Mama, could be interpreted as anti-Zionist and critical of the artist’s father who left
Poland in the second half of the 20th century.

Ewa Chomicka & Agnieszka Pindera

absence can be observed: on the one hand, it is possible to reveal physical

traces of the past and, on the other hand, the past can be performatively
omitted. A number of works pertaining to Jews remaining unseen in Warsaw
can be also interpreted in a broader context of artistic activity in public
space in Warsaw.!(m)
� In September 2015, Małgorzata Kuciewicz, Simone De Iacobis (Centrala)
and Aslı Çavuşoğlu carried out a one-week archaeological excavation at
2B Karmelicka Street in Warsaw. The residential district — a landmark of
the story about Warsaw rising back from its ashes!(n) — was built where an
evangelical hospital had once stood (1769–1944). Performing a most evanes-
cent intervention — opening a post-war hill for several days and exposing
remnants of the past it hid (including pieces of broken bricks, stove tiles, and
fragments of household porcelain) to the general public — the artists tried to
address matters related to creation of national narrations and the ownership
of the (urban) heritage of Warsaw.
� Luísa Nóbrega, an artist from Brasil, carried out twelve performative ac-
tions during her stay in Warsaw. Their fragmentary, incomplete traces
formed a collection entitled It’s Not Good to Have a Past, Even Someone
Else’s.!(o) By recording inconspicuous actions performed in public space, in
front of random people who are not aware of what is happening, the artist
expresses her view of history as fragmentary collective imagination, full
of missing elements and contradictions. The scarce documentation of her
project as well as her stubborn refusal to discuss the nature of her actions
result from the fact that the point of departure for the artist’s work was
m Since 2002, a project concerning Polish-Jewish relations has been present in Warsaw
public space. It has been almost completely assimilated in terms of its discourse and urban
features. The project, Pozdrowienia z Alej Jerozolimskich by Joanna Rajkowska, consists
of an artificial palm tree placed at the intersection of Aleje Jerozolimskie and Nowy Świat.
“The idea behind the project was conceived during a trip of its author to Israel in 2001
and it follows from her attempt at making herself and others aware of the importance of
Aleje Jerozolimskie for Warsaw, at bringing home to people its history and the emptiness
resulting from the absence of a Jewish community. The palm tree became a symbol of
Warsaw and caused the first serious media discussion about the role of art in Polish public
space.” See:, access date:
21 January 2016. Compare the archive of the project:
pozdrowienia-z-alej-jerozolimskich, access date: 21 January 2016.
n “The residential district of Muranów Południowy was supposed to become a monument
to the slaughtered and annihilated ghetto community. It was built between 1948 and
1952 on a two-metre-high embankment from rubble. (…) rubble concrete was used, i.e.
cinder blocks made of ground rubble and concrete; this further enhanced the symbolic
rebirth of the city which came back to life like a phoenix rising back from its own ashes.
The overall design was prepared by Bohdan Lachert — a member of the pre-war architectural
avant-garde (…).” Quote from: M. Lewandowski, “Formacje topograficzne ruin,” in: Chwała
miasta, B. Świątkowska (ed.), (Fundacja Bęc Zmiana, Warszawa 2012), p. 356.
o The traces described are objects which the artist had used as props — photographic
documentation, video materials, and audio materials. They provide her with incomplete,
fragmentary information about the object of her research.

Presence/ Absence/ Traces

memory of events she only knew about from cultural texts (she is not Jewish
in origin). On the other hand, Nóbrega succeeds in defining trauma as a state
that defies any discussion.

t ra c e
1. «a mark left on the ground after the passage of someone or something»
2. «signs indicating that something has happened or existed»
3. «a trace amount of something»

memory trace see: engram

engram «a change in the nervous system caused by a specific experience»

� The last set of works refers to both material and immaterial components of
Jewish heritage. It comprises pieces by Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Sharon
Lockhart, Lukas Ligeti, Tamara Moyzes and Shlomi Yaffe, who make use of
the canon of Jewish literature in their artistic work. A sub-category is formed
by those works which scrutinize contemporary traces of Jewish tradition via
the clichés and stereotypes associated with them. They have been created
by Florencia Levy, Noa Shadur, Konrad Smoleński and Hubert Czerepok.
� Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay — a Canadian living in Berlin — adapted
a short story entitled “Two,” written by by the Nobel-winning writer Isaac
Bashevis Singer in the 1970s, about a boy who wanted to be a girl. That story
is one of Singer’s few works dealing with queer issues$(p) He wrote it when
LGBT movements were developing in the United States, where he lived and
worked, but he chose a Polish shtetl as the setting for his story.
� Nemerofsky’s adaptation in the form of an audio walk, entitled The Muranów
Lily,$(q) draws our attention to the problem of representation of non-heter-
onormative identities in the past, referring to the world created by Singer
and his description of the Jewish community a century ago. In addition,
Nemerofsky poses a universal question about the visibility of motifs related
to gender identity and restores them to their rightful symbolic place by
means of creating a new urban legend of Muranów.
� Sharon Lockhart from the U.S. also makes use of written material — writ-
ings by Janusz Korczak, a paediatrician, writer, educator, and pedagogue.
Her attitude towards children and youth — treating them as equals — is

p Compare W. Hoffman, “Gender Ambiguity in the Short Stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer,”
in: same author: Androgynous Tales. Queering Jewish American Culture, (Syracuse University
Press, New York 2009).
q Nemerofsky owes the musical part of his work to the POLIN Choir conducted by Sean Palmer
and Jakub Pałys. The following members of the choir took part in the project: Carolina
Albano, Piotr Aleksandrowicz, Małgorzata Berwid, Bartosz Goździkowski, Irena
Klein-Sadowska, Małgorzata Kozek, Małgorzata Małocha, Jolanta Nałęcz-Jawecka,
Edyta Pawłowska, Natalia Obrębska, Martina Rampulla, Grażyna Rudolf, Zofia Sadowska
and Karolina Szulejewska.

Ewa Chomicka & Agnieszka Pindera

also derived from Korczak. The fact that Lockhart refers to Mały Przegląd —
a weekly supplement to a Jewish minority daily published in Poland,!(r) pre-
pared entirely by children and teenagers, originally initiated and edited by
Korczak — seems telling.
� Possibly, her interest in that particular paper and the workshop she tries to
organise annually for the girls from the Social Therapy Centre for the Youth
in Rudzienko are aimed at letting them have their say and providing them
with a platform for expression parallel to that on which Lockhart operates
as an artist.!(s)
� Lukas Ligeti based his work That Which Has Remained… That Which will
Return… on quotes derived directly from Jewish heritage. During his stay in
Warsaw, he met people willing to share Jewish melodies and songs with him.
A subjective collection of works!(t) was thus created, which served the com-
poser as a basis for a score for musicians he invited to collaborate.!(u) While
performing the composition the musicians could hear through wireless
headphones (given to them by Ligeti) fragments of Jewish melodies and con-
versations about their origins, recorded by the artist, to which they were to
react by improvising as though they had been shreds of their own memory.
� References to cultural texts are also made by Tamara Moyzes and Shlomi
Yaffe, albeit in an altogether different way — their project for POLIN Mu-
seum is founded on the tradition of pre-war Yiddish theatres in Warsaw
and certain characteristic features of an Israeli movie genre known as bou-
rekas!(v) which was popular in the 1960s and 1970s. Using staffage pecu-
liar to these two aesthetics — a literary/theatrical one and a filmic one —
the artists created three short films whose scripts are based on, among
other things, biographies of contemporary Israeli figures, the figures be-
hind social and national conflicts. They are played by actors from the last
Jewish theatre in Poland, the Ester Rachel Kamińska and Ida Kamińska

r The Nasz Przegląd daily and its Friday supplement prepared by children were published
for thirteen years and its circulation was five thousand copies.
s Lockhart invited the following people to work with children: Tomasz Węgorzewski,
a director; Małgorzata Wiśniewska, a psychotherapist employing dance and movement
in her work; Ewa Tatar, an art curator and critic; Bartosz Przybył-Ołowski, an educator,
and Zofia Moruś, a sound technician.
t The fragments included pieces such as: Nasz wiek XX [Our 20th Century] by a Jewish
big-beat band called ŚLIWKI formed in the beginning of 1966 but was soon disbanded due
to consequences of the events of March 1968, a song entitled Oyfn veg shteyt a boym with
lyrics written by Itzik Manger (a Yiddish poet and writer), and a folk melody which used
to be very popular early on in the 1950s.
u Participants in the project included Paweł Szamburski, Patryk Zakrocki, Mikołaj Pałosz,
Wojciech Kurek and Barbara Kinga Majewska.
v Bourekas is a vivid comedy genre aspiring to melodrama. Such films focus on depicting
relations between Ashkenazic and Mizrahi Jews. They were clearly influenced by literature
in Yiddish and the way in which characteristic features of shtetls in Eastern Europe
were described.

Presence/ Absence/ Traces

Jewish Theatre.!(w) For Moyzes and Yaffe, historical events in which the
people portrayed in their work — Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Amir (reference
to the assassination attempt against the Prime Minister of Israel made by a reli-
gious extremist), Mordechai Vanunu (an Israeli whistleblower), and Tali Fahima
(an Israeli pro-Palestinian activist) — took part constitute a starting point for
challenging stereotypes and identity myths.
� An entirely different approach to the concept of traces can be seen in a film
by Florencia Levy entitled Translate, Repeat, Retrace. Before arriving in
Warsaw, she conducted a series of interviews with members of the Jewish
community in her native Buenos Aires. She talked to Polish immigrants, their
children and grandchildren. She then attempted to “update” the memories
of the three generations of Polish Jews in South America against the land-
scape of contemporary Warsaw. Levy emphasizes, on the one hand, the
Polish background of people who live in Argentina and, on the other hand,
revives their memories of the city, making them vivid and detailed again
with her film.
� Levy also created a small interactive publication entitled A Walk, a Monu-
ment, and Something Invisible, comprising seven stories about the city, Ju-
daism, and the origins of Warsaw Jews, illustrated with photographs by the
author and films (available thanks to QR codes) which depict Warsaw through
the eyes of her interlocutors.!(x)
� Visual materials were also used by Noa Shadur and Konrad Smoleński.
Archival or restaged photographs of historical crime scenes and places of
struggles, whose traces were found by the artists in the urban tissue, in-
spired the choreography of their film.!(y) Strange spaces and hardly acces-
sible areas provided background for movements, making history universal
on the one hand (locations were often underground and lacked characteristic
features) and, on the other hand, reminiscent of the underground armed
resistance movement in Warsaw.
� Traces of symbolic aggression towards minorities in Poland were examined
by Hubert Czerepok who created an installation in public space.!(z) It is
a steel fence whose usual rungs and decorative elements were replaced with
slogans full of hatred, forged in metal, copied by the artist from Polish walls.
The artist wished to annihilate the message conveyed by anti-social graffiti
by means of re-forging it like a craftsman, obliterating the legibility of its
overlapping layers. On the other hand, Czerepok emphasizes the power of

w Participants in the project included Sylwia Najah, Henryk Rajfer i Kobi Weitzner.
x Participants in the project included Andrzej Jankowski, Piotr Rypson, Albert Sternbach,
Jagna Kofta, Matan Shefi and Adam Szyc.
y Participants in the project included Aneta Jankowska, Przemek Kamiński, Agnieszka Kryst,
Magdalena Ptasznik, Łukasz Przytarski and Katarzyna Sitarz.
z For several months, the installation was located among the residential buildings at the Jan
Jura-Gorzechowski square, surrounded by three streets: Dzielna, Smocza, and Jana Pawła II
(the district of Wola in Warsaw).

Ewa Chomicka & Agnieszka Pindera

the phenomenon he strives to combat and stigmatises it with the stark mate-
riality of employed technique. In such form, these words are much more dif-
ficult to ignore than anti-Semitic slogans on walls to which we seem to have
got accustomed.
� Other texts in this publication discuss particular works. The authors include
Adam Lipszyc (philosopher, essayist, translator), Ewa Klekot (anthropologist),
Katarzyna Słoboda (curator at Muzeum Sztuki in Łódź), Joanna Ostrowska
(Gender Studies at the University of Warsaw), Iwona Kurz (Polish Culture Insti-
tute at the University of Warsaw), Paweł Smoleński (journalist, reporter, writer),
Dariusz Brzostek (Cultural Studies Department at the Nicolaus Copernicus Uni-
versity), Waldemar Kuligowski (Contemporary Culture Studies at the Adam
Mickiewicz University), Izabella Main (Ethnology and Anthropology Institute at
the Adam Mickiewicz University), Jerzy Elżanowski (Carleton University), Piotr
Cichocki (Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology Institute of the University of
Warsaw), Łukasz Zaremba (Polish Culture Institute at the University of Warsaw),
and Szymon Maliborski (curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw).
� Some works deal with difficult issues which are often at the centre of on-
going discussions. When they approach matters which are controversial
or tend to be omitted, they start to play an important role, becoming a re-
sponse to faulty language and stagnant forms of public debates.
� Understanding history is always accompanied by uncertainty, it is open to
unexpected interpretations. It is precisely that uncertainty that encourages
us to make an effort — both in analytic and artistic terms.
� The same uncertainty may provide an opportunity for a historical museum
to become an experimental laboratory.