Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A performance by Public Movement in Łódź

UPDATE (4.February):
Public Movement is an Israeli performance group. The action you see below was made by them in Łódź, Poland.
A short explanation: before WW2, Łódź used to have a very large Jewish minority. The Jews were, among others, the owners of a significant part of the textile industry thriving in the city. Today, there are practically no more Jews there - and no more industry as well (although the industry did go on until the 70's, I believe). It is a poor and degraded city, with a lot of social problems, and where antisemitism is still present (although the vast majority of the inhabitants have never seen a Jew).
It is one of the very few places I know where one can still find antisemitic slogans on the walls.
So here you have it: the Israelis arrive and correct the Star of David. They basically make a grafitti of how it should look like, and put the correct form over the incorrect one.

And a few little ideas:
- The grafitti they choose to work with are not openly antisemitic. They simply replace one of the letters of the name of a soccer club (ŁKS) with a Star of David. So this is a "neutral" correction on a "neutral" sign.

- The ritual. Ah, the ritual. Turns it all into an action of purity. Precious.

- Notice one other, much more hidden, interpretation: the Jews are back in town. They are here, after our land. They put their stamp on the walls. They claim what is theirs (the club, the building). They are tagging their city.

- But one idea I think is crucial, and might be overlooked in all this will to interpret every single aspect of the work. Public Movement seems to be saying "Yes, this is who we are. We see no reason to be ashamed of it. Do you? Are you not embarrassed to have thought this was inappropriate or even silly, in any way?"

This is some brilliant playing with street art, semiotics, identity and politics.
The one question that I find problematic is - yes, this is on the spot. But for whom? Who is the audience? Is it public art, or just private art in public space? Or maybe it is public art, only for the audience that is reading about it now? So where does that leave the people who walk by this daily? Do we expect them to have a surge of initiative and paint over the whole signs? Or are we, deep inside, enjoying the fact that it's still there, everything is just the same, while we, the smart ones, know and watch?
I really do not know. I do not have better solutions. This, of course, is not a solution either - it is highliting the question(s). But what are we to make of this insistent neutrality right in the middle of a political issue? Is it a curse, the curse of constant distance? Or the blessing of a delicately balanced gesture, for once?











21 comments:

Rachete said...

I like your blog!

http://racheteapaintersdiary.blogspot.com/

Prica said...

wow powerful!!

David Rosen said...

Great post. Thanks for blogging!

Ania said...

Wojtku, ja też bardzo lubię Twój blog, danę, omera i panią idącą przez łóżko w poprzednim poście. Czy mogłabym zlinkować new-art [uczy, bawi, wychowuje] na moim blogu? lyzeczkami.blog.pl, jeśli chciałbyś zobaczyć, gdzie masz zawisnąć, poza tym to tylko okrawki dla znajomych. Pozdrawiam serdecznie, ania banaś

vvoi said...

Thank you all for the kind words! And Ania, I'll be delighted to have you add New Art to your links!

Ania said...

Thank you for your kind words, Wojtek :) nice time

chook said...

Aside from politics it also begs the question...is street art precious. If they had sprayed on a painting on a gallery wall there would have been outrage. The street artist Banksie was upset that someone was drawing on his art but because of the subterranean nature of graffiti it became another artform

Ania said...

i do like this extra note with the part about audience. i wanted to ask them this kind of questions, somehow concerning their work in general, but it happened only partially, so.. let's see what they do in Poland in April

Damien Hirst said...

This performance seems to be artistically speaking quite irrelevant compared to the one that was performed in Gaza not long ago.

I like jews too.

http://www.nothingthing.com/?p=40

http://www.nothingthing.com/?p=30

Dr.D said...

lol.. Very nice and informative site... i enjoyed reading here..

Ramblin\' Rooster said...

Is great art not derived from inspiration without regards to genre, audience and social acceptance? I think the best art is the one that flows from with in you and is given rather than intended.

Ramblin' Rooster
RoosterEgg.com

Pathros said...

And I like your blog's header picture!

vvoi said...

Rooster, but wouldn't you say that political art, that is, art that participates in public debate on political issues, is either engaged, or it is not political?
And if so, isn't it entangled in the public discussions, opinions, etc?
It's a nice phrase, "given and not intended", and I would say PM subscribe to that. And yet at a certain point when you enter the public/political zone, you place yourself somewhere, notwithstanding the "being placed". This acknowledgement is part of taking responsibility from what comes out of your head - even if it's irresponsible and/or it surprizes you as well... Hmmm... Not so sure about everything I've written.

INTJ said...

The world is a weird place. Thank you for helping me see it all.

Mikusia said...

I'd like to add New Art to my blog too, mikusiasdesign.blogspot.com :)

Arhagle said...

lol is this painting Paintings painters art history

Anonymous said...

concerning who is seeing this art-
there is one important fact you are missing.
during the days af the act- all of the shop owners who had this graffiti on their walls painted them over in one day (before PM managed to get to their walls)- very interesting in my opinion- when the jews came to town and wanted to comment- the city went "clean" overnight

vvoi said...

wow, anonymous, i didn't know that.
a very impressive and surprizing turn of events.
i think the question of the viewer remains, though, as the reaction would have probably been the same no matter what PM would propose as a work.
and it seems like a big stretch to call the store-owners "viewers" of the work, no? pre-viewers, maybe, anti-viewers...
but this raises so many interesting issues. about public participation, intervention, objective, dialogue...

Maria Technosux said...

Public Movement is an IDF backed propaganda front employed to push for the militarization of the police world-wide, acclimating the general public to this militarization by staging public events glorifying authoritarianism and militarism under the guise of performance art. The Public Movement "performers" are NOT artists, they are IDF propaganda minions. In 2001 Israeli operatives, later revealed as Mossad assets, infiltrated USA institutions under the guise of being supposedly harmless New York art students. Look up the documentary Fabled Enemies for more information on this.

Please read my research into the propaganda front that is Public Movement over here:


It's not performance, it's propaganda: Exposing Public Movement , part 1
It's not performance, it's propaganda: Exposing Public Movement , part 2These people are NOT artists and they do not deserve your support.

Maria Technosux

Menina said...

Art definitely has a place in politics. A way of extending a political arm to the masses through expression which hits the emotions.

eastendimages said...

"Public Movement is an IDF backed propaganda front employed to push for the militarization of the police world-wide"

So what? In this case the stencils were needed.
I grew up in Lodz and was always embarrassed of those football related graffitis.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails