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Terribly Close

Terribly Close is the title of an exhibition. It was on display some years ago in the Etnographical Museum in Kraków. It showed simple figures and paintings of prosecuted Jews. The exhibition, as we could read on the official page of the museum, faced many questions, such as: Who did the works, and who collected them?

The answer is not so obvious after a first glance at the exhibition. The topic is strong as it shows crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. The presented sculptures and paintings were also overwhelmed with strong emotions. We see Nazis as prosecutors and Jews as victims. But Jews were depicted not only as passive victims but also as stereotypes. The collectors of these works of art are also the characters of the exhibition. These could be the reasons why these pieces of art were on display in the Ethnographic Museum.

The selected works of art by these folk artists were photographed by Wojciech Wilczyk. The artist focused on the views of artists who became witnesses. Thanks to Wilczyk, we grasp the sense of the whole exhibition, which is also about what these folk artists thought about Jews and Nazis. They could not always help them because they were afraid for their lives, but they felt sorry for them. From the exhibition, we can also learn that compassion can’t be reduced to pity.

This exhibition was a part of the European research project Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritages with the Arts: TRACES (2016-2019).

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