OPEN INVITATION TO ALL CHRZANÓW DESCENDANTS
All descendants of Chrzanów residents are invited to participate in a project co-organized by FestivALT in collaboration with three artists— Katarzyna Sala, Marta Sala and Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman—entitled Esther’s Willow.
The collaboration aims to replant a white willow in the place of the demolished Great Synagogue in the former Esther’s Square in Chrzanów. Focusing on the use of willow in traditional medical practices common to Jewish and Slavic communities in Poland, the artists invite the inhabitants of Chrzanów and their descendants to discuss and help shape the project as well as share their own experiences with sickness and healing.
Marta and Katarzyna grew up in a former Jewish apartment on the former Esther’s Square, a decade after the Great Synagogue was demolished, where a beautiful white willow tree towered in its place. Marta began to think of the willow as a memorial to the Jews of Chrzanów only after it was cut down in 2018. The sisters’ collaboration with Sniderman, whose ancestors lived in Jaroslaw and Warsaw, is bound to Marta’s idea, born from and meant to contribute to everyday life in Chrzanów.
Supported by the local museum, the artists are organizing a collective replanting of the same species of tree back into the earth of the square, installing the white willow as a formal memorial to Esther’s Square, the Great Synagogue, and the Jews of Chrzanów. Yet, the project attempts to reach the city’s traumatic Jewish past in relation to an old and intimate space of transcultural ancestral experience, where Jewish and Slavic communities in Poland mutually, collaboratively, and differently depended on willows to treat viruses, diseases, infertility, and bodily pain, exchanging knowledge, treatments, practitioners, and patients.
Katarzyna, Marta, and Sniderman intend for Esther’s Willow to stand and grow for decades to come in Chrzanów in the spirit of everyday struggles for healing, deep memory, and solidarity across differences. The project will be realized in so far as residents and descendants, diverse in age and experience, shape and witness it.
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Marta Sala, Katarzyna Sala, Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman
FestivALT, The Irena and Mieczysław Mazaraki Museum, &
Municipal Center of Culture, Sport and Recreation in Chrzanów