OCTOBER 25th, 7:00pm

In the second part of our “Complexities of Memory” ALT Talk, we will focus on the perceptions of local Polish Jewish heritage from international perspectives. Together with experts: Edyta Gawron and Jonathan Webber from Krakow and Jason Francisco from the United States.

We will look at how Jewish memory intersects with Polish urbanity as can be perceived by foreigners coming to Poland.

The panelists, all of whom are associated with Poland, will unpack the complexities of Poland’s Jewish and non-Jewish histories and heritages, discussing elements of it’s contemporary presence that often surprises and even shock visitors. These are aspects that have often become so normalized that locals are unaware of their impact. They will discuss both positive and negative examples of working with a memory from around the world and from Poland.

This conversation will also be important from the point of view of the ongoing debate in Krakow and Poland regarding the commemoration of the victims of the former KL Płaszów camp. The unsuccessful public consultations, strong polarization of residents’ voices, and the controversial project of building the Museum will be a bridgehead for an in-depth discussion of heritage.

Join the conversation with the experts! 

Digital Diasporas with FestivALT

We are excited to be hosting the artists, thinkers, and creators behind a new art-activism project from Kraków-based Jewish arts collective FestivALT for the September edition of our Digital Diasporas series!
Join FestivALT co-director Magda Rubenfeld-Koralewska, cultural anthropologist and curator Erica Lehrer and artist Jaqueline Nicholls to discover their approach to a new critical intervention around Jewish subject matter in the Krakow Ethnographic Museum, and the ways it has changed and evolved as a result of the global pandemic.
About the Project: Despite its location in a former Jewish school in the heart of the Jewish quarter in Kraków, Poland, and covering one of the richest periods of multicultural history in Galicia, the permanent exhibit of the city’s historic Ethnographic Museum (MEK) barely addresses Jewish or other minority cultures. In July 2019 FestivALT initiated a public conversation with the Museum’s Director regarding the museum’s ethnic depictions and silences. MEK had no prior contact with Kraków’s Jewish community, and the results of that conversation were surprising for all, catalyzing a process of collaboration with the Jewish community and self-critique for the museum, to consider how it might better exhibit Jewish and minority cultures going forward.
In 2020 FestivALT is collaborating with Professor Erica Lehrer (a Montreal-based cultural anthropologist with longstanding connections to Poland and MEK) and partnering with four artists working in mixed media (Jacqueline Nicholls, Dorota Mytych, Wiktor Podgórski and Edward Pasewicz) to design a large-scale multi-media installation responding to the museum’s problematic content. Due to COVID-19, the works will be projected on the museum, raising questions and offering curatorial dreams for after lockdown.

Join us to discuss this unfolding activist provocation!

About the speakers

Erica Lehrer: cultural anthropologist and curator, teaches at Concordia University, Founding Director of the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab (CaPSL).

Jaqueline Nicholls: visual artist, educator, and cultural events producer. Her art engages traditional Jewish ideas in untraditional ways. 
Magda Rubenfeld Koralewska: graphic designer, social entrepreneur, activist, co-founder and co-artistic director of FestivALT. 

About Digital Diasporas

Much as a diaspora describes the dispersal of a people across space, this series explores the new movements artists are taking away from their practice in the digital world or how they are working in ways that forge new communities and connections despite geographic distance. In short, it’s a series about being apart, together. Join us each month as selected artists take us through their practice prior to the pandemic, their innovations in response to social distancing, and their visions for the future.

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Complexities of Memory I: The Local Dimension

A conversation about how Jewish memory functions in the city—a case study with Kraków and Wrocław

Revitalization or gentrification? Commemoration or appropriation? Or perhaps digital reconstruction? How does Jewish memory function in the spaces of the city and how does it impact the city’s identity?

On the table for discussion are several places:

  • Kazimierz, Kraków’s historical Jewish quarter, in which the processes of revitalization and commercialization have long been underway
  • The site of the Płaszów concentration camp, which is currently on the threshold of change, facing a debate about a museum and memorial that may be built there
  • The site of a Jewish cemetery in the center of Wrocław, on Gwarna Street, today entirely unmarked and unrecognized
  • A Wrocław/ Breslau New Synagogue alive only in the digital realm.

We’ll discuss the Jewish identities of Kraków and Wrocław, as well as how those identities are perceived in the larger context of the cities. Is it possible to reconcile the processes of commemoration and heritage revitalization with the mass consumption and commercialization of that heritage? And what does the digital reconstruction of Jewish heritage mean and how does it contribute to the Jewish identity of a city?

Join the conversation with experts Roma Sendyka, Piotr Kwapisiewicz, Agnieszka Jabłońska and Karolina Jara. The more questions, the better!

“Identity is built on the foundation of memory, both individual and collective. But memory is inherently selective. In order to remember certain things, we must forget about others. Most often, we remember what we want to remember. Sometimes we remember the things we cannot forget.”
Henryk Halkowski

ALT TALKS realized in cooperation with Allianz Kulturstiftung.

This project was co-financed by the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund and Asylum Arts.

A public project co-financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland through the competition “Public Diplomacy 2020—A New Dimension.”

The performance reflects only the views of its creators and holds no bearing on the official position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.