Interview mit Yael Bartana

03. Juni 2012 von Matthias Planitzer
A move­ment can­not be main­tai­ned by one per­son. There is a pro­cess turning it from an art pro­ject into some­thing that can func­tion. When I look around me, I see these revo­lu­tio­nary and poli­ti­cal move­ments and for me it is inte­res­ting to relate to that.

Dies ist die unge­kürz­te Fas­sung des Inter­views mit der israe­li­schen Künst­le­rin Yael Bar­t­a­na, wel­ches im März 2012 im KUNST-Maga­zin (S. 12–15) erschien.

Anläss­lich der Ende April begin­nen­den 7. Ber­lin Bien­na­le wird die israe­li­sche Künst­le­rin Yael Bar­t­a­na im Rah­men des Fes­ti­val­pro­gramms einen Kon­gress über ihre Akti­on, die fik­ti­ve “Jewish Renais­sance Move­ment in Pol­and” (Bewe­gung jüdi­scher Wie­der­ge­burt in Isra­el), anfüh­ren. Bereits für die ver­gan­ge­ne Vene­dig-Bien­na­le bespiel­te sie den pol­ni­schen Pavil­lon mit einer Film­tri­lo­gie über die­ses Pro­jekt, in der sie sich für die Wie­der­an­sie­de­lung der jüdi­schen Flücht­lin­ge und ihrer Nach­fah­ren im pol­ni­schen Staats­ge­biet ein­setzt. In der Ver­gan­gen­heit trat Bar­t­a­na immer wie­der mit sym­bol­träch­ti­gen Video-Arbei­ten über die Lage Isra­els in Erschei­nung und stell­te u.a. auf der docu­men­ta 12, im MoMA PS1, sowie im Tate Modern Lon­don und Liver­pool aus. Unser Autor Mat­thi­as Pla­nit­zer traf sie zum Gespräch über Visio­nen und Hoff­nun­gen für das jüdi­sche Volk und den Sym­bol­ge­halt ihrer Bewegung.

Miss Bar­t­a­na, your ongo­ing pro­ject “Jewish Renais­sance Move­ment in Pol­and” (JRMiP) is a sym­bol for the com­plex histo­ry and today’s after­math of the dia­spo­ra, both in Isra­el and Pol­and. What is your per­so­nal inte­rest of this uni­que approach to such a dif­fi­cult topic?

The who­le pro­ject star­ted in 2006 after visi­ting Pol­and, try­ing to ima­gi­ne a pos­si­ble revi­val of the Jewish com­mu­ni­ty in this coun­try. As an Israe­li I have dif­fe­rent rela­ti­onships to Jewish iden­ti­ty. I tried to ima­gi­ne the pos­si­bi­li­ties of recon­ci­lia­ti­on with the past and allo­wing to over­co­me the dra­ma of Pol­and, Isra­el and the Jews. It was the idea to somehow think of a his­to­ri­cal chan­ge, of some­thing that will be writ­ten on the pages of histo­ry. Despi­te the atro­ci­ties, despi­te what hap­pen­ed: Is it actual­ly pos­si­ble to fill in the void? What strikes me most is this void, the absence, the non-exis­ting com­mu­ni­ty. I wasn’t that much inte­res­ted in the action its­elf but more in the sym­bo­lic level of rethin­king histo­ry and may­be fin­ding a new lan­guage to dis­cuss the Holo­caust, the Second World War and later on ’68. I wan­ted to reflect upon the rela­ti­onship bet­ween the dia­spo­ra and the home­land, the noti­ons of the Jewish exi­le. I wan­ted to somehow under­mi­ne the Zio­nist dreams of the Jews in Isra­el. It’s a pro­ject that is quite poli­ti­cal in a sen­se that it is try­ing to chall­enge the rea­li­ty in the Midd­le East and in Europe.

The move­ment will be sub­ject to a spe­ci­al­ly held con­gress at the upco­ming Ber­lin Bien­na­le cura­ted by the polish artist Artur Żmi­jew­ski. With the sym­po­si­um being held on Ger­man ground, one might won­der what moti­va­ted you to launch the “Jewish Renais­sance Move­ment” in Pol­and and why not in Ger­ma­ny or Rus­sia ins­tead. What were decisi­ve fac­tors for your choice?

For Israe­lis, Pol­and is some­what the worst place in the world. It’s the coun­try were most of the major atro­ci­ties hap­pen­ed. This is whe­re child­ren go every year for the March of the Living and to visit the con­cen­tra­ti­on camps. The lar­gest Polish dia­spo­ra actual­ly lives in Isra­el. This is why the rela­ti­onship with Isra­el is very inte­res­t­ing in terms that the­re is much Polish cul­tu­re in Isra­el. Fur­ther­mo­re, the reason why I star­ted in Pol­and, sim­ply was that I was invi­ted to come and work the­re. Ano­ther per­so­nal level is, that my gre­at-grand­par­ents are from Poland.

How were the reac­tions to your pro­ject both in Pol­and, in Isra­el and even internationally?

The­re were many dif­fe­rent reac­tions. It’s not so black and white with anger and exci­te­ment. I think the pro­ject trig­gers the people’s ima­gi­na­ti­on to think about the pos­si­bi­li­ties. Some peo­p­le read it as a con­ti­nua­tion of the Zio­nist move­ment, becau­se I use many Zio­nist ele­ments. But it’s a stra­tegy: In order to under­mi­ne it, I use the same tools, rever­se and flip it. The­re is some­thing very sedu­cing to the idea of living tog­e­ther in Pol­and. I think this fee­ling of pio­nee­ring attracts the peo­p­le. But of cour­se, the­re were also many peo­p­le who were against the idea and I show that in the films.

I think the­re are a lot of young peo­p­le who don’t see much of a future in Isra­el, who want to be able to tra­vel and take a Euro­pean pass­port. It’s also a mat­ter of gene­ra­ti­on; the older gene­ra­ti­on can­not accept the idea of retur­ning to Pol­and. But obvious­ly and as shown by the choice for the Venice Bien­na­le, this idea is well accept­ed in Poland.

One of the most striking qua­li­ties of the JRMiP is its non-govern­men­tal ori­gin, being a move­ment powered by tho­se that are actual­ly to be invol­ved by it. Thus it is fuel­led with an admi­ra­ble ener­gy – at least in the ima­gi­na­ti­on of tho­se who hear about it. Being a qua­si-fic­ti­tious orga­niza­ti­on, how far is the pro­ject from actual­ly making way for the demand of re-sett­ling Jews to their for­mer home­land? Is it still a mere sym­bol for today’s situa­ti­on of the Jews and their ances­tors that fled Pol­and and other countries?

The move­ment is ima­gi­na­ry at the moment. Now we need the peo­p­le to estab­lish it. This is why we have the con­gress. A move­ment can­not be main­tai­ned by one per­son. The­re is a pro­cess tur­ning it from an art pro­ject into some­thing that can func­tion. When I look around me, I see the­se revo­lu­tio­na­ry and poli­ti­cal move­ments and for me it is inte­res­t­ing to rela­te to that. I don’t want to be in this Polish-Israe­li bubble, the idea is more uni­ver­sal. I give only an exam­p­le. I think this is the reason why peo­p­le can rela­te to it. It is just about to spread the mes­sa­ge. I want to break a sta­tus quo.

Do you know how many peo­p­le sin­ce then have fol­lo­wed your call?

The­re were some, but I don’t know a num­ber. But I get more and more E‑Mails from artists who want to do pro­jects in Pol­and. It has beco­me quite popu­lar and this is a nice deve­lo­p­ment, as I think. When the peo­p­le are curious and inte­res­ted, I think that’s an achievement.

What expec­ta­ti­ons and hopes do you have for the con­gress being held during the Ber­lin Bien­na­le this summer?

It is my hope for the con­gress, to crea­te a demo­cra­tic situa­ti­on, so that peo­p­le can vote for what they want: What kind of chan­ges do we want for our­sel­ves? I want to hear about other people’s fan­ta­sies. I want us as a group of hundred peo­p­le to dis­cuss the kind of chan­ges we want. It is not about prac­ti­cal solu­ti­ons. The­re are many other orga­niza­ti­ons that try to deal with that, facing a lot of bureau­cra­cy, law issues and poli­tics. I think the­re are enough of them, but the move­ment is not such an orga­niza­ti­on I hope to establish.

In your pro­ject you indi­rect­ly cri­ti­ci­ze Israel’s sett­le­ment poli­ci­es. How do you view cur­rent deve­lo­p­ments in Israel?

I am com­ple­te­ly against the occu­pa­ti­on and aggres­si­on towards the Pal­es­ti­ni­ans. I am a lef­tist in that sen­se, but I don’t want to be a despe­ra­te one, you know? Through the JRMiP I also wan­ted to cri­ti­ci­ze Isra­el. One of the topics of the move­ment will be: What should hap­pen in Isra­el so that it will be part of the Midd­le East? When I talk about racism, then it is also some­thing I stron­gly expe­ri­ence in Israel.

Towards Israe­lis?

Towards Pal­es­ti­ni­ans.

Not only them, but also towards Ira­ni­an peo­p­le. Israel’s cur­rent rela­ti­onship to Iran is in Euro­pe wide­ly view­ed with concern.

I think, in Isra­el we have to rea­li­ze that we are in the Midd­le East. We have to learn Ara­bic; we have to start to inte­gra­te. We’re not a colo­ny. Befo­re the Zio­nist move­ment and the sta­te of Isra­el was estab­lished, the­re were many other move­ments but we don’t know of them. We should be part of what it used to be in the 19th cen­tu­ry, when Jews and Arabs lived together.

In con­trast the­re is the Jewish situa­ti­on in Euro­pe. In an inter­view with Art it Maga­zi­ne you said, that after the Second World War the Polish socie­ty beca­me homo­ge­nous due to the miss­ing Jews…

… but the Jews will move the­re. Some­thing has to chan­ge in Pol­and first for tho­se who want to move back.

What could that be?

An inte­gra­ti­on tax. Yid­dish or Hebrew as a second for­mal lan­guage. If you want to accept the others, you have to give them some­thing. We have to somehow influence that this chan­ges. I am not naï­ve, I know the­re is a lot of anti-Semi­tism in Pol­and but I want to belie­ve that this can change.

Andere Meinungen

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