Views – little girls’ play very popular in Eastern Europe. Girls make pictures under the small glass.
Pictures are made from what they have – flowers, ribbons, leaves – and buried into the ground.
Warsaw is a strangely divided city. All of its formerly 1/3 Jewish history is practically nonexistent in the urban memory, nonexistent in the structure and space of the city. It is a human memory – the memory of individuals, which is not reflected in the collective, urban memory.
The city is as if cut across by a thick line. On one side are monuments, flowers, votive candles, names of streets and squares – history whose participants have been made manifest, and on the other, quiet namelessness, basically nothing tangible. The ghetto wall, although it is long gone, still delineates the structure of the city – separating memory from oblivion. And although there was mainly one ghetto, there are also others, other namelessnesses, and I also have them in mind here. The absence of Jews, the absence of civilians, the absence of women, the absence of children.
Most cities bear within them a hidden memory (of events, people, personal histories). Cities are built on the absences of those who no longer inhabit them, yet who created them, and built from their memory, absent in the official image. I trace the path of my own heritage. From Warsaw I moved to another Polish town, Łódź. There, unlike in the completely war-ravaged Warsaw, the old Jewish tenement buildings are still standing right where they were built, although other people now live in them, having moved in with their own furniture and changed the names of the streets. Another stop along the route of memory is Paris. Here it is hard to find anything amidst the constant variability and bustle. Tel Aviv, which I do not know and where I will myself have to go looking for traces. Or perhaps those traces will find me. And lastly New York. A safe harbor for one of a pair of twin sisters who got separated during the war. Looking for analogies, looking for traces of one's own memory – building them into the history of a city, that is only now becoming my own.
My project is an attempt at taking on the Holocaust, making a personal voyage within myself and into my own history, the history of my family, my Grandmothers, into what was never verbalized; I am the last one who can leave behind this testimony, hand it down, convey it onward. But it is also about fertilizing the city with memory, crystallizing what is absent from this space.
I make plaster casts of my own body, cover them with photographic emulsion, expose them with pictures under an enlarger, and then bury them into the ground. This is not about making a deposit. It is not about a monument or counter-monument, more about symbolic urban-guerilla tactics.
The action of the project plays out between the body and the earth. On the plane of disintegration. It is a renewed, observed and documented ritual of giving the earth (a cast of) my own body. A body that is derived from other bodies that have completely ceased to exist.
The objective is to be involved in a process where witnesses are important. Evoking a network of relations and imparting it my own energy, my own disquiet, communicating my own questions and experiences, which will then be subject to transformations – already beyond control – based on a domino effect.
The origin of the performance "Views":
film by Anna Grzelewska /p>
Memory is freedom