Israeli director Yael Bartana is the first non-Polish national to represent Poland at this year's Venice Biennale. ... And Europe will be stunned explores the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland and is accompanied by a special publication A Cookbook for Political Imagination.
Yael Bartana, Mur i wieża, 2009, photo from the set, courtesy of Anne Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv,photo: Magda Wunsche & Samsel
Israeli director Yael Bartana is the first non-Polish national to represent Poland at this year's Venice Biennale. ... And Europe will be stunned explores the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland and is accompanied by a special publication A Cookbook for Political Imagination
Yael Bartana, an Israeli film, photography, video and sound installation artist, is the first non-Polish national to represent Poland in the history of the Venice Biennale. This year's event, the 54th International Art Exhibition – 'ILLUMInations', will showcase Bartana's film trilogy: Mary Koszmary / Nightmares (2007), Mur i wieża / Wall and Tower (2009) and Zamach / Assassination (2011) in an exhibition entitled ...and Europe Will be Stunned. 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 explore a landscape scarred by the histories of competing nationalisms and militarisms - overflowing with the narratives of the Israeli settlement movement, Zionist dreams, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and the Palestinian right of return.
Mary Koszmary is the first film in the trilogy and explores a complicated set of social and political relationships among Jews, Poles and other Europeans in an age of globalisation. A young activist delivers a speech in the abandoned National Stadium in Warsaw. He urges three million Jews to come back to Poland. The second film in the trilogy, Wall and Tower was made in the Warsaw district of Muranów, where a new kibbutz was erected in the architectural style of those constructed in Israel in the 1930s. The trilogy concludes with Bartana's latest work Assassination. The film, which will have a parallel premiere at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw, explores the idea of a multinational community and new Polish society. The film takes place in the not too distant future, during the funeral ceremony of the leader of the Jewish Renaissance Movement, who has been killed by an unidentified assassin. It is by means of this symbolic death that the myth of the new political movement is unified—a movement that could become a concrete project to be implemented in Poland, Europe, and the Middle East in the days to come.
Bartana explains that in her project: I quote the past, the time of Socialist utopia, youthfulness and optimism — when there was a project of constructing a modernist idea of a new world. Apart from the polemics of the Polish-Jewish relationship, this is a story about the complexities of cultural integration.
The artist, born in 1970 in Kfar Yehezkel, Israel, has had numerous solo exhibitions, including such venues as PS1, New York Moderna Museet, Malmö; Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Kunstverein, Hamburg; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, and Fredericianum, Kassel.
The publication A Cookbook for Political Imagination accompanies the exhibition. It forms a manual of political instructions and recipes, provided by more than 50 international authors. Covering a broad spectrum of themes, the cookbook comprises manifestos, artistic contributions, fictional stories, food recipes, social advice and guidance for members of the movement. It is the first book published under the auspices of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland, and has been edited by the curators of the exhibition, Sebastian Cichocki (chief curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw) and Galit Eilat (writer, curator, founding director of The Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon and co-editor in chief of Maarav). It is designed by Guy Saggee from Shual Studio (Tel Aviv) and published by Zachęta National Galery of Art and Sternberg Press.
The Venice Biennale, established in 1895, is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world. It has supported the avant-garde, promoting new artistic trends and organising international events in contemporary arts. Having originally debuted as the first 'International Art Exhibition' it gave rise to new festivals in the 1930s: Music, Cinema, and Theatre (the Venice Film Festival in 1932 was the first film festival ever organized). In 1980 the first International Architecture Exhibition took place, and in 1999 Dance was added as a festival category.
In 2011, the Biennale will hold the 3rd Arsenale della Danza (17th January to 15th May), the 2nd Kids' Carnival (26th February to 8th March) the 68th Venice International Film Festival (31st August to 10th September), the 55th International Festival of Contemporary Music (24th September to 1st October), and the 41st International Theatre Festival (10th to 16th October).
Pavilion Commissioner Hanna Wróblewska; curators of the exhibition Sebastian Cichocki, Galit Eilat; commissioner assistant Joanna Waśko. Zamach was commissioned by Artangel, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture and Zachęta National Gallery of Art in association with Annet Gelink Gallery, Sommer Contemporary Art, Ikon Gallery, Netherlands Film Fund, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and Artis and produced by My-i Productions in association with Artangel.
Polish participation in the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice was made possible through the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland. The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz Insitute, Society for the Encouragement of Fine Arts at the Zachęta Gallery and Mondriaan Foundation.
The exhibition at the Polish Pavilion concurs with another Bartana's exhibition Assassination in Warsaw, opening on June 3, 2011.
For more about the jury's verdict to feature Bartana at this year's Biennale see: Yael Bartana at the Polish Pavilion for the 2011 Venice Biennale
Also see: The Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland: A Manifesto
Exhibition opening: June 2, 4:30pm
Zachęta National Gallery of Art
Pl. Małachowskiego 3
00-916 Warsaw, Poland
T (+48 22) 556 96 00
Source: press release