Opening and performance: January 16, 2019, 7:00 PM
Exhibition: January 17 – February 10, 2019
Kultur-und Wissenschaftspalast, Plac Defilad 1, Warschau
The exhibition Phantom at Galeria Studio in Warsaw is the first presentation of Rara Kamińska’s project Phantom Monument devoted to Rosa Luxemburg. Further iterations will be shown in Zamość (Synagogue / Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland), Zurich (Kunst im öffentlichen Raum) and Berlin (Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz). These four cities are where Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) lived and worked. The famous Marxist and social democratic activist was murdered treacherously on the night between January 15 and 16, 1919, in Berlin; her body was flung into a canal. The murder came to light many months later and the man who ordered the execution, Waldemar Pabst, a commander of the paramilitary formation Freikorps unit, never went on trial. Luxemburg’s symbolic funeral ceremony attracted 150 thousand people.
Memorial plaques that commemorate Luxemburg in Poland are nowadays hacked off or destroyed, while the house in which she was born in Zamość is devastated. A law passed in 2016 has accelerated the process, initiated in the 1990s, of erasing events and figures related to workers’ movement from collective memory. In Berlin, one of the main squares and a street bear Luxemburg’s name; in 2006 it became the site of Hans Haacke’s project Memorial Rosa Luxemburg. In Germany, after the Nazis came to power, the memory of activists of the communist and socialist left was supposed to be obliterated. Hitler ordered to demolish the monument devoted to Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, and to other revolutionaries, raised in 1926 by Mies van der Rohe at the cemetery in the district of Lichtenberg. Luxemburg fared no better in the Soviet zone of influence. As Lenin’s opponent, she was regarded as a controversial figure.
Luxemburg, active member of the Social Democraties Parties in Poland and in Germany, returns in Rara Kamińska’s exhibition to the place she lived in Warsaw, in 16 Złota St., which is today an empty lot visible from the windows of Galeria Studio. The structure of Kamińska’s works draws inspiration from the activist’s herbarium containing weeds growing on the walls and yards of prisons in which she was incarcerated between 1913 and 1918. Luxemburg studied botany in Zurich, which she abandoned for economics and politics. Kamińska’s project addresses feminist and pacifistic postulates, desires and fears – political, private, social and economic – present in Luxemburg’s writings.
The exhibition features reliefs woven of current editions of German and Polish newspapers, an installation made of fragments of hacked off pavements of Berlin’s Rosa Luxemburg Platz, an archival section, as well as a photographic project devoted to Luxemburg’s house in Zamość. The exhibition opening on the 100th anniversary of Luxemburg’s death features a performance that consists in reading out an interview with Pabst, published in 1962.
Rara (Renata) Kamińska:
Born in Hrubieszów, grew up in Zamość. Graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Leipzig and the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin. Her works have been exhibited at Gallery Monique Goldstrom in New York, within a guest participation at the Luxembourg Pavilion at the 55th International Art Exhibition in Venice, Galerie Chert in Berlin and the AURORA biennial of art in public space in Dallas. In the recent years Kamińska has run her interdisciplinary and ephemeral project BEL ETAGE.
Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin Kunst im öffentlichen Raum, Zurich Synagogue in Zamość / Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland, Zamość