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.
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?
Director Charles Esche on Zamach: “This work is the last in a trilogy of films that tell the story of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland. The presentation of the three works in the exhibition ...and Europe will be stunned at the Venice Biennale last year was widely celebrated. The Van Abbemuseum had already acquired the first two of the videos for our collection and with this final piece we now have the complete work. The Polish Trilogy is an impressive and ambitious work of art that is bold in both content and form. This is a unique opportunity for the Dutch public to see what, in my opinion will become one of the key works in our collection.”
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.
The second publication, …and Europe will be stunned – The Polish Trilogy, includes an extensive sequence of colour stills from the trilogy, transcripts of the speeches in the films and newly commissioned essays by Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir, Boris Groys, Joanna Mytkowska and Jacqueline Rose. It is published by Artangel, Ikon, Birmingham; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek; Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and Van Abbemuseum.
This second publication can also be ordered online in our webshop...