The official Polish exhibit at the 54th Venice Biennale is a controversial video installation by Israeli artist Yael Bartana that examines the complexities of Polish-Jewish relations.
It is the first time that a non-Polish artist has represented Poland at the Biennale, a major showcase for international art that opened this week.
Bartana’s installation, “...and Europe will be stunned,” consists of three provocative films that revolve around the activities of the “Jewish Renaissance Movement,” a fictional political movement established by the artist herself that calls for the return of 3 million Jews to Poland.
“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,” the curators of the exhibition stated.
They described the first film in the trilogy, “Nightmare,” as resmebling a World War II propaganda film and addressing contemporary anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Poland, as well as “the longing for the Jewish past among liberal Polish intellectuals and the Zionist dream of return to Israel.” The second film, “Wall and Tower,” addresses the mythic allure of the kibbutz. The third film of the trilogy, “Assassination” is set in the future and focuses on the potential development of Bartana’s “Jewish Renaissance Movement.”