The Post-Jewish Space Cover Image

Przestrzeń pożydowska
The Post-Jewish Space

Author(s): Konrad Matyjaszek
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts, Jewish studies
Published by: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Warsaw; Polish-Jewish relations; Jewish property; place and space; public art

Summary/Abstract: The paper offers a critical analysis of a prevalently used contemporary Polish design strategy of alteration and modification, practiced on the former Jewish districts in Poland. A majority of these districts’ urban substance consists of property once belonging to Polish Jews, and appropriated by non-Jewish Poles during the Holocaust and after 1945. Such property and its urban space are described in Polish language as a ‘post-Jewish’ ones (mienie pożydowskie). The article analyses two parallel cultural processes of contemporary adaptation of this urban space. First of these processes is focused on the concept of Jewish Space, a social idea proposed in 1999 by Diana Pinto. The Jewish Space, envisaged as a cultural and material space of an encounter between European Jews and non-Jews, in its Polish interpretation becomes free from any requirement of a Jewish presence. A social practice resulting from such interpretation differs radically from Pinto’s original idea. The second reviewed process concerns the physical construction of thus defined ‘space of encounter’. Its practice is analysed on an example of Oxygenator, an urban intervention by Joanna Rajkowska, installed in Warsaw in 2007. This work, one of first Polish attempts to create a physical space of encounter, despite of its altruistic principles could not fully go beyond the boundaries of the Polish discourse on the exclusivist ‘dialogue’. Consequently, a cultural vocabulary it allowed remains limited to meanings more likely to result with exclusion than with a possibility of participation.

  • Issue Year: 2013
  • Issue No: 2
  • Page Range: 130-147
  • Page Count: 18
  • Language: Polish