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  • Author: Kamil Minkner x
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Polish contemporary art to the anti-semitism of Poles and its political significance


This article presents artistic creativity which worked through the problem of Polish anti-Semitism. Almost all discussed works, performances, films, projects appeared after 2000, when Jan Tomasz Gross published his book Neighbors, in which he described the massacre in the village of Jedwabne (1941) launching a public debate about the responsibility of Poles in the Holocaust of the Jews. In the text, I showed as art, which is conventionally called “post-Jedwabne” was part of this debate. Its political status on possibly general level was associated primarily with the revision of conventionalized historical memory and national identity formed on romantic patterns.

The text shows that the debate with the participation of artists formed part of the rules of socalled ritual chaos, so the highly polarized positions, in which anti-Semitism was considered as an obvious and determining such events as the ones in Jedwabne (the opinion was adopted by artists), or it was denied. Even those works that sought to break away from this dichotomy, as Ida by Paweł Pawlikowski were placed secondarily in it as a part of the public debate. In the text, I explained that the post-Jedwabne art worked through primarily so-called secondary anti-Semitism. The political potential of these gestures was related to the disclosure of social antagonisms and tensions arising from the fact that Poles denied phenomenon of their own anti-Semitism and put the blame on the Jews for the fate, which they met. A very important aspect (political as well) also proved the psychotherapeutic function of post-Jedwabne art. In this perspective, events such as the pogrom in Jedwabne appear like trauma, which disintegrates the national identity. Translating it into artistic strategies many artists applied measures that were to deprive the viewer the secure role of an observer in favor of an active, working through participant.

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