The Want to be Jewish
April 15th 2013
Controversies arise when someone deals not only with Jewish culture, but also the trauma of the War. Agnes Janich, a young visual artist living between Warsaw and New York, deals with the memory of the Holocaust through her body. She combines true stories from WW2 with eroticism. She underlines that for her, Jewishness is not only a question of roots, but first and foremost - of identity. "I've been practicing liberal Judaism for 7 years now", she says. She feels that to tackle the topic in art, she needs not just to know about it, but to try and experience history herself. "I've undertaken certain tasks to get myself closer to the topic of the war. I ate only apples and potatoes for ages. Slept 4 hours. Shaved my head bare for 3 years. Dressed in black. Walked barefoot to the camps, on the snow."
Though she got used to attacks that her art is fruit of a "trend for the Holocaust", they still shock her. "I admire the contrivance of people who can construct that absurd an accusation in their mind", says the artist. "He who thinks so should experience for himself how difficult a topic it is and how it can nearly destroy one's private life."
Malka Kafka believes that the Jewish fascination of Poles is voice to the yearning for spirituality untamed by a religious institution. Agnes Janich remarks that it can also come from the yearning for success. "Catholicism and protestantism are for humility. Judaism - for self-confidence.", she says. The artist underlines that Jewish culture has been recognized and even fashionable world-over since long, Madonna's Kabbalah involvement being one of many examples. "Poland is now home to a movement that's been present in the US and the rest of Europe for long.", she observes.