The exhibition … and Europe will be stunned was shown in the first time in Polish national pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice. The films revolve around the activities of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP): a political group calling for the return of Jews to the land of their forefathers. The films are overflowing with the narratives of the Israeli settlement movement, Zionist dreams, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and the Palestinian right of return. Apart from realising the film trilogy, the artist has established the foundations of a new political movement.
A solo exhibition by Yael Bartana.
Dates: 24.03 – 26.08.2012
Alongside the films will be an archive display, produced specially for this exhibition that explores the historical and aesthetic references that appear in the films. Elsewhere, manifestos of the JRMiP will be available to take away whilst visitors will also be encouraged to sign up to the movement.
Mary Koszmary (trans: Nightmare) opens the trilogy. Slawomir Sierakowski, a young Polish intellectual and leader of the JRMiP, addresses a near empty Decennial Stadium in Warsaw calling for Jews to return to Poland. Deploying the structure and sensibility of a propaganda film, Mary Koszmary’s stirring rhetoric addresses contemporary anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Poland, the longing for the Jewish past amongst Polish intelligentsia and the Zionist dream of return to Israel.
The second film in the trilogy Mur i wie?a (trans: Wall and Tower) takes place on the former site of the Warsaw ghetto. The film sees members of the JRMiP come to the Polish capital to build a kibbutz, at once embedded and isolated from the surrounding community. The film’s combination of heightened realism and emotive soundtrack plays out the inherent conflicts of settlement movements – whether in a past, present or potential future guise.
In the closing film of the trilogy, Zamach (trans: Assassination), Bartana puts the dream of a multinational community to the ultimate test. The film shows the funeral ceremony of Sierakowski, the leader of the JRMiP, who has been killed by an unidentified assassin. The viewer is left in a state of uncertainty over the status of the JRMiP: Is it pure hallucination, an artistic project, or rather a concrete and constructive possibility for the future of Poland, Europe and the Middle East?
The exhibition is accompanied by the publication A Cookbook for Political Imagination. It was made for the Venice Biennale, and is a manual of political instructions and recipes, delivered by more than 50 international authors.
Assistant curator: Nick Aikens