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21 Nov 2009

Museum of the History of Polish Jews: Project (...) by Anna Baumgart & Agnieszka Kurant

(...), Urban Space Project by Anna Baumgart and Agnieszka Kurant Chłodna street, November/ December 2009, Warsaw



24.11.2009 - lecture by Jörg Heiser

+48 22 471 03 04

Project (...):
Chłodna street, Warsaw
Nowy Świat 63 street, Warsaw

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The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is pleased to invite you to a lecture by Jörg Heiser, prominent German art critic, curator and co-editor of Frieze Magazine.

The lecture opens a series of encounters accompanying the urban project of Anna Baumgart and Agnieszka Kurant (…), which will be unveiled on Chłodna Street in Warsaw in early December.

(…) of Anna Baumgart and Agnieszka Kurant is a successive undertaking of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews within the framework of the '!Watch Out. Memory in Action' program. This time in the sphere of modern art, the program invites you to reflect critically on the common Gentile/Jewish past in Poland.

The lecture will take place in Nowy Wspaniały Świat (Nowy Świat 63 street) at 8 p.m.

Urban Space Project by Anna Baumgart and Agnieszka Kurant
Place: Chłodna street, November/ December 2009

Project (...) is a spatial installation project that fits well with the educational mission of the Museum, best described by the idea "open past" and based on a dialogue of multiple narratives on the subject of the joint Polish-Jewish history, cultivating the memory of coexistence of cultures, but also inviting to critical reflection, without evasion of taboo topics. Conceptual work by Anna Baumgart and Agnieszka Kurant, perceived by them as a kind of "linguistic sculpture" which picks up on the theme of "memory work" in Polish modern art, and explores the boundaries of Warsaw’s contemporary identity, a city for which void and absence are the basic categories of description. The Second World War, during which one third of Warsaw’s inhabitants perished, including near entire Jewish population, put an end to the city’s centuries-long multicultural reality. There disappeared for ever from her urban landscape the architecture of synagogues and from her streets the sounds of Yiddish.

(…), an ephemeral sculpture that defies the laws of gravity will be installed in a symbolic place, over Chłodna street, where during the Second World War there stood the “footbridge”, a wooden overpass above the Aryan part of the city linking the Large Ghetto with the Small Ghetto. The taboo subject the authors of (…) wish to bring up is that of awareness of Poles that mass murder of Jews happened before their very eyes; the inexpressible traumatic experience that casts a shadow on relations between Jews and Poles to this day.

(…) can appear wherever there are unsolvable problems and near inexpressible subjects. (…) is a punctuation mark that represents: "skipping over or omission in a text, a broken thought, a missing element". As conceived by the authors, (…) crosses the boundaries of history; is travelling installation, a sign for hire; empty space that focuses attention on a taboo that actually exists in memory and culture. The shining surfaces of the balloons will reflect back every element or discourse that nears them.

Commenting on their work, the authors said: The project for us is a catalyst of different, often mutually exclusive meanings. For us art, as opposed to didacticism and politics, is not a mouthpiece or a speaking tube, a presentation of hand-me-down views. We would like to see this art instigate new and unpredictable social situations and touch the things long relegated to collective subconscious in Warsaw’s urban space, so saturated with the traumatic past and so taboo-ridden.
The project is complemented by a cycle of open public debates taking which will be devoted to such topics as: the strategy of absence of memory in Warsaw, the glamour aesthetics as a vehicle for taboo content, the conceptual art, history and irony.

The urban project (…) is also addressed to the local community, the present inhabitants of Chłodna street for whom this may be the first collective experience and an encounter with their street’s Jewish past, hopefully an impulse to building neighbourly relations based on recognition of their street’s history and identity.

Projekt coordinator: Karolina Sakowicz (tel. 22 471 03 04)
Project curator: Ewa Toniak
Project authors: Anna Baumgart, Agnieszka Kurant