To my Friends...
Izabela Maciejewska, installation, 2017
The work is inspired by Władysław Strzemiński 1945’s collage cycle entitled ‘To My Jewish Friends’. The nine-piece set of works was given by the Artist to The World Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. One of the pieces was excluded from the set and is now in National Museum in Cracow.
By using tracing-paper Strzemiński copied fragments of his war drawings, replaced them and rearranged. Then by placing photographs on the sketches, photographs taken in the ghetto, concentration camp and during the Warsaw Uprising, he created unique collages.
The incoherence of their form symbolizes Artist's inability to express the experience of The Holocaust. Titles given by Strzeminski on the back of each drawing amplify the feeling of emptiness even more. Though being as direct as possible, they seem strangely poetic and elusive, almost as incoherent as the works they represent: "Ruins of the Demolished Eye Sockets", "Through the Hollow Bones of Crematorium".
War and Holocaust became deep cracks in Strzemiński’s artistic life. In his works from that time on there is no form of statement capable of presenting these experiences as they really were. The Artist reached the limits of expression.
Strzemiński presented this cycle in February 1947 and clearly confirmed his stand on anti-Semitic moods that were growing in Polish post-war society.
In 1952 Strzemiński, who was fatally ill at this time, began to write a novel, once again looking back at the war experiences. He wrote about men deprived of all their ‘filthy humanity’, men broken, bleeding and mute in their tragedy.
Due to the Holocaust, the artist had lost completely his faith in social order, that is mirrored in non-relatively existing Art Absolute, and The Meaning was lost. As a result, his searching for photographic documents, reading reports of the trials of Nazis and creating - as it turned out – his final notes, all that can be viewed as a last attempt to find the Meaning in a world of no shape.