Israel artist builds mock kibbutz in heart of Polish capital

21st July 2009, Comments 1 comment

The unprecedented art installation is the brainchild of Israeli video artist Yael Bartana and is to serve as the set of the second in her trilogy of films focused on the symbolic revival of Jewish life in Poland after the Holocaust.

Warsaw -- Construction of a mock Israeli kibbutz complete with fencing and watchtower, began Monday in the heart of the Polish capital Warsaw.

The unprecedented art installation is the brainchild of Israeli video artist Yael Bartana and is to serve as the set of the second in her trilogy of films focused on the symbolic revival of Jewish life in Poland after the Holocaust.

While Bartana usually focuses on Israeli-Palestinian issues, the current project uses imagery from the Middle East to address the history of Polish Jews.

"In this film we are concentrating on the moment when actually the Jews are coming actually back to Poland," Bartana told AFP Monday on the site of the kibbutz set.

Kibbutz are collective communities based on agriculture, originally built by Jewish settlers from Europe in Palestine in the early 20th century, well before the May 1948 declaration of independence by the modern-day state of Israel.

Bartana's grandparents, as Jewish immigrants to Palestine prior to World War II, had no direct experience of the Holocaust. But the idea for the kibbutz installation arose after a visit to Poland in 2006.

"I went to different cities and communities where Jews used to live and I came up with the idea that it would be really fantastic to revive the Jewish spirit again," she told AFP.

"What does it bring to the collective memory? What does it mean for the Israelis, what does it mean for Jews, what does it mean to the Poles? And I wanted to kind of cross over emotional elements."

The symbolic kibbutz is being built in the heart of the Polish capital in a district which was turned into the infamous Warsaw Ghetto by Poland's Nazi German occupiers during the Second World War.

The site is next to the imposing monument to the Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1943), the first and only armed Jewish revolt against the Nazis in all of occupied Europe during World War II.

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, chronicling nearly the nearly 1,000-year-long history of Jewish life in Poland prior to the Holocaust, is due to open on the site within three years.

Poland was home to Europe's largest Jewish community prior to World War II totaling some 3.5 million people.

Historians agree that some six million Polish citizens perished during WWII, half of them Jewish.

Today Poland's entire Jewish community numbers between 3,500 and 15,000 out of an overwhelming Roman Catholic population of 38 million.

But experts say it is all but impossible to say how many Poles have some Jewish ancestry.

AFP/Expatica

1 Comment To This Article

  • shmuel Ben Eliezer posted:

    on 27th July 2009, 05:38:31 - Reply

    In the articlee you state that the uprising in Warsaw was "the first and only armed Jewish revolt against the Nazis in all of occupied Europe during World War II.'
    Hitorically that is a totally FALSE statement.
    There were many uprisings and resistance movements throughout occupied Europe by Jews and Jewish groups. Bilystok, Czestochowa are just two of the more famous but there were many others such as the Belski group of which there was a recent movie, Defience, and there was even armed resistance in Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor of which movies were also made. By ignoring these historical facts you dishonor the memory of the victims.