Erica Lehrer, Roma Sendyka, Wojciech Wilczyk, Magdalena Zych
Research Center for Memory Cultures, Faculty of Polish Studies, Jagiellonian University
Awkward Objects of Genocide
Eastern Europe witnessed 14 million deaths in a period of little more than a decade between 1933 and 1945. In many respects, the impact of such widespread and wanton killing reverberated in towns, villages and affected communities for many decades. It can be assumed that every community produced artistic responses to that traumatic memory, and local, vernacular artists might be considered the most prolific group trying to represent the events they witnessed.
In this Creative Co-Production a team consisting of a curator, an artist, an anthropologist, and a memory studies scholar, based at the Research Center for Memory Cultures of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, will research on the vernacular art on the Holocaust and its place in Polish Ethnographic Museums. Specifically, they will research ethnographic collections, folk artists (or their descendants), and international collectors, seeking art related to the Holocaust. A primary goal is to assess the scale of the phenomenon of nonprofessional visual art undertaken to memorialize the Holocaust. The project further aims to challenge the “awkward” status of these objects in museums (folk art typically is unconnected to history or difficult subjects), as well as expanding notions of both “Holocaust art” and Holocaust memory.