Film Trilogy

The three 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 that calls for the return of 3,300,000 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 real­iz­ing the film tril­ogy, a new polit­i­cal move­ment has been estab­lished by the artist.

Mary Koszmary (Nightmares), 2007

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 the age of glob­al­i­sa­tion. A young activist, played here by Sławomir Sierakowski (founder and chief edi­tor of Krytyka Polityczna mag­a­zine), deliv­ers a speech in the aban­doned National Stadium in Warsaw. He urges three mil­lion Jews to come back to Poland. Using the struc­ture and sen­si­bil­ity of a World War II pro­pa­ganda film, Mary Koszmary addresses con­tem­po­rary anti-Semitism and xeno­pho­bia in Poland, the long­ing for the Jewish past among lib­eral Polish intel­lec­tu­als and the Zionist dream of return to Israel. As Yael Bartana says: ‘This is a very uni­ver­sal story; as in pre­vi­ous works, I have treated Israel as a sort of a social lab­o­ra­tory, always look­ing at it from the out­side. These are mech­a­nisms and sit­u­a­tions which can be observed any­where in the world. My recent works are not just sto­ries about two nations — Poles and Jews. This is a uni­ver­sal pre­sen­ta­tion of the impos­si­bil­ity of liv­ing together.’

Mur i wieża (Wall and Tower), 2009

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 at actual scale and in the archi­tec­tural style of the 1930’s. This kib­butz, con­structed in the cen­tre of Warsaw, was an utterly ‘exotic’ struc­ture, even despite its per­verse reflec­tion of the his­tory of the loca­tion, which had been the Jewish res­i­den­tial area before the war, and then a part of Warsaw Ghetto. The film invokes pre­vi­ous heroic images of strong and beau­ti­ful men and women who myth­i­cally estab­lished Israel. They were depicted as deter­mined pio­neers who, despite the most unfa­vor­able con­di­tions, kept build­ing houses, cul­ti­vat­ing land, study­ing, bring­ing up chil­dren col­lec­tively, shar­ing their assets and con­stantly train­ing to fight off poten­tial enemy attacks. This is the world that the artist pro­poses to res­ur­rect in the 21st cen­tury, in an entirely dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal and geo­graph­i­cal con­fig­u­ra­tion. Bartana again: ‘I quote the past, the time of Socialist utopia, youth­ful­ness and opti­mism — when there was a project of con­struct­ing a mod­ernist idea of a new world.’

Zamach (Assassination), 2011

The film Zamach (Assassination), the final part of the tril­ogy, which has its pre­miere at the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice and will be shown in par­al­lel at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw — Bartana brings the dream about multi­na­tional com­mu­nity and the brand new Polish soci­ety to the ulti­mate test. The plot of the film takes place in not too dis­tant a future, dur­ing the funeral cer­e­mony of the leader of the Jewish Renaissance Movement, who had 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 which can become a con­crete project to be imple­mented in Poland, Europe, or the Middle East in the days to come.