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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.134

Art of Memory: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust


  • Magdalena ZYCH

Primary authors

  • Magdalena ZYCH (The Ethnographic Museum in Kraków/ Jagiellonian University)


This paper presents results of the research about folk art objects made by vernacular artists from local communities in Poland after The Second World War. Some of researched works are talking about the Holocaust as seen from up close, from a “bystander’s” perspective. The oldest found example is a painting from (ca.) 1948 by Sławomir Kosiniak from Zalipie, recently discovered in the archives of the Kraków Ethnographic Museum, it presents the round-up of local Jews.The most recent work is ""Jedwabne"" by Jan Kowalczyk, commissioned by a German collector in 2017. An important role in the circulation of the objects was played by German collectors interested in dialog with Polish artists. All of the objects are traces in the European memory landscape. The question is what do they actually depict? How should we look at them today? How did these works come about? Who made them, and why? Who bought, commissioned, and collected such scenes? Were they exhibited? For which audience? Why they could be seen as examples of difficult solidarity? The fieldworks and analysis made by the team and also the exhibition in The Ethnographic Museum in Kraków were part of the research project Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritages with the Arts: From Intervention to Co-Production: TRACES (2016-2019), implemented as part of the European Commission Horizon 2020 Reflective Society program.