Yael Bartana is the first non-Polish national to represent Poland in the history of the Venice Biennale. Bartana’s films, Mary Koszmary (2007), Mur i wieża (2009) and Zamach (2011) 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 traverse 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. Apart from realising the film trilogy, the artist has established the foundations of a new political movement. Mary Koszmary (Nightmares) 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, Mur i wieża (Wall and Tower) was made in the Warsaw district of Muranów, where a new kibbutz was erected to the scale and in the architectural style of those constructed in the 1930s. In the new film Zamach (Assassination), the final part of her trilogy, Bartana ultimately tests the dream of multinational community and a brand 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, or the Middle East in the days to come.
The publication A Cookbook for Political Imagination accompanies the exhibition. This is a manual of political instructions and recipes, delivered by more than 50 international authors. Covering a broad spectrum of themes, the cookbook comprises manifestos, artistic contributions, fictional stories to elements of visual identity, 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 and Galit Eilat, and designed by Guy Saggee from Shual Studio (Tel Aviv). Published by Zachęta National Galery of Art and Sternberg Press.
Yael Bartana was born in 1970 in Kfar Yehezkel, Israel. Her artistic practice includes film, photography, video and sound installation. She has had numerous solo exhibitions,. e.g. at PS1, New York’ Moderna Museet, Malmö; Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Kunstverein, Hamburg; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, or Fredericianum, Kassel.
Sebastian Cichocki works as the chief curator at the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Between 2005–2008, he worked as director of the Centre for Contemporary Art Kronika in Bytom, Poland. In his curatorial and publishing projects, he often refers to the land art and conceptual traditions.
Galit Eilat is a writer, curator and the founding director of The Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon. She is co-editor in chief of Maarav—an online arts and culture magazine, as well as research curator at the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. Her projects tackle issues such as the political situation in the Middle East, activism or political imagination in art.
The new film 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 by the Zachęta Gallery and Mondriaan Foundation.
54th International Art Exhibition
La Biennale di Venezia
… and Europe will be stunned
Pavilion Commissioner: Hanna Wróblewska
Curators of the Exhibition: Sebastian Cichocki, Galit Eilat
Commissioner assistant: Joanna Waśko