Alicja Knast

Alicja Knast

Bracha L. Ettinger’s art leaves no doubt: suffering, death and the experience of atrocity leave traces than cannot be disregarded.

Both public spaces and private sphere see today attempts of erasing painful experiences, which becomes especially visible after tragic events fuelled by human hatred. It does not matter whether it is WWII, terrorist attacks, or lack of respect for human rights. What Bracha L. Ettinger is telling us, however, is that painful events and memory must be revisited as they constitute an integral part of who we are here and now.

*

Museums, focused on the past as they might seem, in practice are often the most sensitive barometers of the present. One of the main reasons why we were so overjoyed to hear Bracha (as she asks to be called) affirm her willingness to present her art at Muzeum Śląskie was the desire to challenge the common indifference to trauma and the lack of awareness of the mechanisms creating it. This is the first comprehensive solo show of the artist in Poland, although Poland is the country of her parents’ youth.

*

It should be stressed that the exhibition is accompanied by the international conference Vulnerabilities (July 6-8 2017) organised by the University of Silesia in collaboration with Muzeum Ślaskie. The juxtaposition of the debate focused on redefining vulnerabiliy with the museum’s everyday experience of tracing and caring for that which is abandoned, forgotten or lost in the labyrinths of free-market economy and the primacy of profit was not a coincidence. At the museums we know how much there is to do in the sphere of exclusion and underprivileged inhabited by the ones whose voices cannot be heard in the common consciousness.

*

The complexity and multifacedness of human psyche is a common trope in the artist’s work highlighted by her choice of motifs and the technique of layering. Longer examination leads to broader interpretations and the conclusion that Bracha includes in her work the dimension of time. This process might be compared to the attempts of expressing the idea assuming a tight connection between the plot and space (like in the case of a theatre performance) through video-art or a painting. The ability of registering passing time, memories and their mutations gives the Artist a possibility of including them in her works which then cease to depended only on the laws of the two dimensions. Her oeuvre, although rooted in tradition, ceases to be indifferent to the possibilities of the new media techniques.

*

Bracha L. Ettinger’s exhibition coincides with other artistic events at Muzeum Śląskie, like the first – and so far the only one – presentation of the colony of the Polish artists in Paris between the years 1900-1939 during the exhibition entitled Między Montmartre’em oraz Montparnasse’em [Between Montmartre and Montparnasse] or Dani Karavan’s installation Reflection/Odbicie. Both exhibition relate, in their own ways, to Shoah – preceding or following the Holocaust.

*

The Eurydice-Pieta exhibition is made up of works leaving us a very broad field for interdisciplinary interpretations. I therefore highly recommend the essays available in the online catalogue and encourage everyone to visit the exhibition on Korfantego 3 in Katowice.

*

Personally I am most pleased to hear that the artist treats the exhibition as a homecoming of a kind, although Polish remains for her just a substance to immerse into. In a private conversation Bracha stressed how important the exhibition at Muzeum Śląskie is for her. It is actually us who really enjoy the opportunity of direct contact with her works. We really need them, especially today.

Director of Silesian Museum