On 24 March 2012 the solo exhibition …and Europe will be stunned by the Israeli Dutch artist Yael Bartana opens at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. The exhibition comprises a trilogy of videos centred on the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP) that calls for the return of 3.3 million Jews to Poland. The video installation, which premiered at the Polish national pavilion as part of the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011, consists of three films: Mary Koszmary (2007, collection Van Abbemuseum), Mur I wieża (2009, collection Van Abbemuseum) and Zamach (2011). This last video has been donated by Outset jointly to the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and the Van Abbemuseum. 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.
… and Europe will be stunned
With …and Europe will be stunned, Yael Bartana was the first non-Polish artist to represent Poland at the Venice Biennale. The video trilogy charts the ideologies and activities of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP), a political group that calls for the return of Jews to the land of their forefathers. The fictitious narrative weaves together different references and ideological positions from the socialist roots of Zionism, European anti-Semitism and Israel’s past and present settlement programmes. Bartana’s trilogy draws on conflicting histories in order that we may imagine a different future.
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 a return to Israel.
The second film in the trilogy Mur i wieża (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.
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.
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