The two bassoons sat as they usually do, towards the back of the seating arrangement. Their tonal range, as is always the case, made significant contributions to the ducha of an orchestra. The word ducha, is simultaneously both a Polish and Russian word which does not translate easily to English- in the same way as the German word heimat cannot be directly translated into English. Ducha loosely translates into English as soul-spirit, but the word also refers to a larger concept that has no equivalent in the English language. The bassoon is always the unsung hero of an orchestra. Bravo to both Bassoonists for playing so beautifully the other night.
On Heimat and Ducha
I have spent the last three months thinking about a suite of three Yael Bartana works And Europe will be stunned which were presented at the 2012 Venice Biennale. For readers not familiar with Bartana, the Polish Government invited Yael, who is an Israeli artist, to make work for the Polish Pavilion. Yael has Polish grandparents and lives in Berlin. Selected sections of this suite of works can be seen on utube. The Bartana project invited 3.3 million Jews to return to Poland. This is exactly the same number of Jews that were murdered in Nazi camps in Poland during World War II. Unfortunately, I missed this work when it was shown in Melbourne at ACCA. The work has now been jointly acquired the Guggenheim Museum and Tel Aviv Museum of Art. As an Australian with Polish heritage (my Mother arrived in Australia in the early 60s) the question of a contemporary Polish identity is an ongoing and open ended question for me.
When I was in Poland in 2012, investigating exhibition opportunities and visiting family, I kept trying to imagine what the streetscapes of Warszawa and Lodz would have looked like before National Socialism emerged in the 1920s. This feeling was most strong in Lodz where most of my family settled at the end of WWII. Before WWII Lodz was one of the major textile producers of Europe. There were dozens of Polish-Jewish firms operating massive scale commercial enterprises. Contemporary Lodz has no functioning textiles factories. The buildings are now mostly derelict, apart from the odd factory that has been saved and converted into loft-style apartments.
|Derelict textiles factory Lodz, 2012|
With the Antwerp model in mind, I also acknowledge that at this time, my wants for Poland are an idealistic dream. I guess this is where I nod towards Bartana: I hope people are provoked into thinking about all the questions that this Bartana work raises. Very important art is seldom easy.
I was also moved by Slawomir Sierakowski's brave decision to collaborate with Yael. The delivery of his speech in the disused stadium sent shivers up my spine. It still does every time I watch the clip on utube. I feel very fortunate to that I am bilingual and was able to appreciate the finer points of his speech, without the Polish language being watered down in an anglocentric translation. The delivery of his speech is possibly the most subversive video work that I have ever watched. When people put their lives on the line to make contemporary art, I am rendered completely speechless.
My studio work is slow moving at the moment, despite spending between 3 to 4 full days (approximately 8 to 11 hours per day) in my studio each week. I need to complete this project before I can return to completing the suite of pencil drawings that look like bromoil photographs.