In the course of our “Faces of Diversity” project, we have referred to the topic of migration as well as to the processes of shaping the image of a typical migrant on a number of occasions. We have also made attempts to create a space in which people who have experienced the hardships of migration first-hand may speak for themselves.
One of the crucial issues we have tackled was the history of the post-war migration of the Polish Jews. Even after World War II was over, Poland was still home to one of the largest Jewish communities anywhere in the world. The question is: why did they choose to leave? In what circumstances? Where did they go? What were the consequences of this migration? What did emigration mean for them, for Poland and for their new homelands? In his lecture, Professor Dariusz Stola, PhD, historian and director of the POLIN Museum, addressed all those questions during his lecture.
We have also referred to the stories of people of Jewish origin who have left Poland in the wake of the anti-Semitic campaign of 1968. What were the main themes of the propaganda of March ‘68? Who was branded as the enemy? What was the influence of this propaganda on Polish citizens? During our workshops entitled “March ‘68 – causes, accounts, significance”, we have made an attempt to find answers to all of these questions. Hoping to demonstrate how those events influenced the lives of the participants and witnesses of the events of March 1968 as well as on the lives of their children, we have organised screenings of the films “Kredens” (“The Sideboard”) and “Niedokończona Historia. Marzec 68” (“March ‘68. An Unfinished Story”). The screening was accompanied by a discussion with the directors and protagonists of the films – Jacob Dammas, Paulina Dammas, Zaq Chojecki and Seweryn Blumsztajn.
In response to the messages relayed by the contemporary media and online, reiterating the same stereotypes on migrants over and over again, we have proposed actions intended to explain the reasons behind the current wave of migration as well as to deconstruct the false conceptions which exist nowadays.
During the discussion entitled “Migrants in Europe”, we have discussed the directions and causes of migration in contemporary Europe as well as the challenges the people who come to Poland and other European countries have to face. Apart from the question of who the migrants currently residing in Poland really are, we have also tackled the issue of the situation of Poles living abroad. The discussion was attended by imam Youssef Chadid from the Muslim Cultural and Educational Centre in Poznań, Professor Wojciech Łukowski from the Centre of Migration Research and Ewa Winnicka, journalist and author of the books “Londyńczycy” (“Londoners”) and “Angole” (“The Brits”).
fot. M Starowieyska/ Muzeum POLIN
In order to enable the participants to explore their personal memories of the experience of migration, we have selected a form of workshops which made it possible to tell one’s story by means of the techniques of collage and found footage.
During our workshops entitles “Varsovians abroad, foreigners in Warsaw”, we have created collages of family photographs which referred to the experiences of migration, travel and encounters with foreigners. This formed an opportunity to test the collage technique under the supervision of Tomek Kaczor – a photographer and cultural activist – as well as a chance to consider the impact which the feeling of being at home (or away from home) has on our lives.
How do we feel when we travel to foreign countries? How do we treat foreigners in our own country? There are many possible answers to these questions. The participants of found footage workshops entitled “We, the Migrants” have taken advantage of existing video clips, editing them in a completely new way in order to demonstrate what it means to be a stranger or to meet a stranger in one’s own country. Each participant focused on the aspects related to the experience of migration which he or she felt were the closest to his or her own life. We encourage you to watch the six short films dedicated to these experiences. The workshops were conducted by David Sypniewski – cultural activist, graphic designer, photographer and maker of short films.
Ola Wasilewska „Exit, inside”
Author’s description: “»Exit/Inside« came into being as a result of my own reflections that followed my three-month scholarship in Tel Aviv. I became part of this constant, never-ending influx of people: tourists, foreign families and migrants who come to Israel to settle there on a permanent basis. I was intrigued when I heard that recently there is a growing tendency among young Israelis to contemplate leaving the country for good. I wanted my film to show these opposing directions of movement: to and fro, coming and going – so that the viewer may experience all this incessant flow of people as if they were there”.
Julia Sitarska „Sposoby” (“Methods”)
This film is a visual variation on the theme of diversity and perception of otherness, which becomes a part of us through the experience of migration.
Katarzyna Karpińska „American dream”
This film demonstrates how discrimination or the lack of equality may go unnoticed in the public debate, which in turn influences our conception of the given country.
Anna Majewska „Dobrobyt” (“Welfare”)
Author’s description: “This short film is an attempt to confront my experience of working abroad with the way in which people usually speak about it, allowing us to compare all those light-hearted tales of someone else’s experience with the actual hardships that people face during their everyday lives. All the quotes included in the film were taken from internet forums dedicated to working abroad”
Valery Ruselik „Stereostamp”
Author’s description: “A short video about stereotypes, or national labels: whenever you spend time abroad, people will inevitably look at you through the prism of national stereotypes, thinking of famous politicians, sportsmen, historical events and suchlike. While I was wandering around the centre of Prague, some street musician somehow guessed that I was from Belarus and immediately started to sing about his great love of Alexander Lukashenko. I felt embarrassed.
Anna Grabińska „Welcome”
A film inspired by the so-called little migration – the experiences related to working abroad during the summer.