MOCAK Forum Special Edition 1/2018 Memory of the Holocaust
MOCAK has published a special edition of the MOCAK Forum magazine: Memory of the Holocaust. The issue continues the Museum’s activity related to working through the history and memory of the Holocaust. The managing editor is Delfina Jałowik, the manager of the Exhibition Organisation Department at MOCAK. The book is available from MOCAK Bookstore.
We have invited Polish and international authors from different humanist fields to write a text for this edition. The issue has been divided into four main sections: Institutions, Monuments, Visual Artists and Philosophy, Literature, Opera, Film and Comic Art.
The first, and the largest of these – Institution – comprises essays devoted to different curatorial strategies, educational models and ideas for institutional programmes that deal with the topic of the Holocaust. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett describes different concepts of Holocaust Museums. In turn, Jürgen Kaumkötter introduces a tripartite division of the Holocaust art as a genre. Eliad Moreh-Rosenberg analyses four distinct curatorial strategies in preparing art exhibitions at the Art Museum of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority. Michał Wiśniewski, using as his starting point the term ‘sites of memory’, coined by Pierre Nora, asks what role the medium of architecture has in conveying symbols of the past, in the context of the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Felix Nussbaum Haus in Osnabrück and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Agnieszka Sachar talks to the architect Jakub Szczęsny, the designer of Keret’s House in Warsaw, a site of art residences and get-togethers. Margrit Bormann writes about the strategy of memory ‘conservation’ for future generations in the State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. In the article concluding the section, Krzysztof Marchlak describes MOCAK educational workshops dedicated to the Holocaust and calls on the representatives of the institutions active in Oświęcim to talk about their educational programme about this difficult memory.
Jerzy Halbersztadt opens the Monuments section with a description of the history of the memorials for the victims of the Holocaust in Poland: Warsaw, Brzezinka, Treblinka, Majdanek, Bełżec and Krakow. Jarosław Kozakiewicz talking to Martyna Sobczyk discusses his architectural projects, whose common denominator is the memory of past events. Diana I. Popescu complements his narrative with her description of the visual art installations based on involving the viewer directly, following the principle that ‘we are the monuments’.
The third section – Visual Artists – carries the visual essays by Erez Israeli and Dorota Nieznalska – artists whose art revolves around the memory of the difficulty history of the history of the 20th century. Monika Kozioł talks to Krystyna Piotrowska, whose works are in the MOCAK Collection, the founder of the Próżna Project. Many of her works relate to Polish–Jewish relations. Roma Sendyka writes about Artur Żmijewski’s film Berek. Although 18 years have passed since the work first came out, the controversial work still provokes heated discussion and objections every time that it is shown to the public.
The closing, and largest, section is Literature, Opera, Film and Comic Art. It comprises a text devoted to each of these areas. Georg Christoph Tholen refers to the philosophical discourse that started with the text by Jean-François Lyotard (1982) written in response to Theodor W. Adorno essay published in Prismen. Kulturkritik und Gesellschaft (1955). Magdalena Mazik has invited representatives of visual arts, opera, theatre, film and educational institutions as well as authors of non-fiction who have been inspired in their own actions by life and work of Zofia Posmysz to comment on the writer. Joanna Gaul describes the fate of the operas created during the 1930s and 1940s in response to the events in the Third Reich. Tomasz Łysak analyses four Polish films made in 2010–2014 in terms of the motifs for saving Jews presented in the cinema that deals with the Holocaust. Kamila Kowerska describes various ways of presenting the Holocaust narrative used by the creators of comics and graphic novels. Finally, Maria Kobielska provides an academic analysis in her essay Revisiting Holocaust: Representation in the Post-Witness Era.