The following interview take place in Zdunska Wol between me and my interviewer Kuba Pawelec, (a student of the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cracow University and a graduate of Jewish Studies at the Jagiellonian University).
The interview was conducted via video conference: I was in Kibbutz Massada in Israel and the audience, attending the vernissage of my exhibition, was in the Historical Museum in Zdunska Wola, Poland
The questions where asked in Polish then translated into English, I answered in English and my answer was retranslated to Polish….
After this “introduction” here is the interview:
0. Jakie to uczucie spotkać się ze zduńskowolanami podczas Twojego wernisażu w MHMZW?
What kind of feelings do you have meeting the residents of Zdunska Wola today, even just only by skype?
ANS.. It looks like a surrealistic scene …To see today people from Zdunska Wola attending my exhibition … because I know that all my family, who has lived for generations in this city, has been murdered here in 1942 by the Nazis….Anyway I am glad to see you… Because I feel it as the renewal of a bond between my generations (1933 who survived the Holocaust) with your present generation in Zdunska Wola 20141. (And this has nothing to do with art..)
Could you be so kind and tell us a story of your family?
ANS…Well, all my family is from Zdunska Wola…..Lived there for many generations…A few of them emigrated from Poland before WW2….Among them my parents, Avraham and Gitel Kojetz and one aunt Sarah, who emigrated to Belgium in 1929-1930. The fate of my remaining family in Zdunska Wola is known..
I myself was born in 3.3.33 in Anvers.With the outbreak of WW2 we moved (my parents and my little brother) to Brussels. It is more than a miracle that my parents where not deported to the extermination camps… But miracles need always some human assistance and indeed this assistance was given by very good Belgian friends of my parents (Mrs Van Campenhout and Quataquer) and the catholic priests from Brussels who helped to hid me and my brother, throughout the war in the Belgian families Decrean in Dighem, Segers in Denderlew, Kellner in Awagne and in the Homme de Leffe by the priests and especially the pere Bruno (Henry Rynders).
In 1949 I went to Israel and my parents and brother came to Israel in 1950. After my army service (1953) I went to kibbutz Massada where I meet my wife Noah (who was born in the the kibbutz) We have 4 children and 7 grand children. .
To enlarge the pictures click on them.
1a. (Jeżeli sam nie powie pytanie o służbę ojca w polskim wojsku)
Could you tell as something about your father, his military service?
ANS…My father was in the Polish army in 1925…I don’t know what he did …. but I have his military booklet (KSIAZECZKA WOJJSKOWA) which is packed with the details of his army service. It is written in Polish. I will send you the scans of the principal pages. I would be very happy to know the details of his service in the polish army.
2. Co było w pocztówkach wysyłanych pomiędzy gettem w Zduńskiej Woli a Twoją rodziną w Belgii?
You tell us about the post cards sending by your family from the ghetto of Zdunska Wola to your parents in Belgium. What about they were writing on the cards?
ANS…Yes, I told you about the post cards. My parents didn’t tell me anything. Only after they passed away, I found the post cards they receive between the years 1940-41from Lodz and Zdunska Wola. The content of the post card was “send us money, that is the most useful thing here.” After 1941 the post cards stopped suddenly to arrive.
3. Kiedy odkryłeś w sobie potrzebę mówienia poprzez sztukę i czym jest dla Ciebie Twoja twórczość?
How did it happen that you found the art way to express your feelings? What your art means for you?
ANS…To tell you the truth it didn’t happen ..it was always so…some sort of metaphorical singularity where calculations are meaningless.. and explanations breakdown or in short: I don’t know..so art as a “meaning “ is what I am living consciously and unconsciously…also when most of my life I do other things.
4. Jak Twoją sztukę odbierają najbliżsi? Z wykształcenia jesteś matematykiem a na emeryturze zająłeś się sztuką na poważnie.
– What about your family? How they like your art. works? You have a bachelor degrees in economics and math, and in this way you have started to do your art quite late.
ANS…As I mention it before, the trigger or the drive to make art, happen’s to be my “Pavlovian response”… to myself….some sort of autoimmune disorder from the day I was born…My economics and math studies where made in between the times…In real time I was the Mayor of my kibbutz for about many years but nevertheless I made about 35 exhibitions in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and in the peripheral museums in the Jordan Valley…My family appreciate my art works…although not exactly understanding what I did …but there is always something to see.?!
5. Oprócz rodzinnej historii skąd czerpiesz inspirację?
Where do you find the inspiration?
ANS…In my view, inspiration can “emanate” from everywhere and everything I see and feel. Perhaps I am sensitive to those “emanations”… and this is commonly translated as “finding inspiration”…but it is no more than some sort of “accident”, good or bad.
6. Skoro tyle rzeczy Cię inspiruje dlaczego temat miasta podejmujesz najczęściej? (mam nadzieję, że wiele rzeczy będzie go inspirowało oprócz ZW).
Why do you use so often the subject of the town of Zdunska Wola?
ANS…My works in this exhibition are not meticulous drawings, on the contrary thy where created in moments of pressure of the events in 1941, but, by a person who lives in 2014 remembering his own fears as a child hidden from the Nazis.(.. for four years in Belgium (1940-1944).
Still the drawings are “ordinary” but supposedly created in Zdunska Wola 1941, 72 years back in time as if I where some kind of alien coming from the “Planet 2014 … “
And Indeed my signature at the bottom of the works symbolise this: “2014………Z.W. 1941…..”name of the work”,,,,,,, שלמה “. Something like a code or more exactly- a password to my past, named Zdunska Wola.
7. Czym jest dla Ciebie przedwojenny jidyszkajt. Często w swoich pracach wideo wykorzystujesz przedwojenne standardy jidyszowe.
What the prewar Yiddishkayt means for you? You use very often the Yiddish music standards in your videos.
ANS…Yiddishkayt …. It was the way we live… also in Belgium…Today it is nostalgia or some academic study….for me using Yiddish music standards is NOT Yiddishkayt it is life as I know it then and now
8. Kiedy powstała pierwsza praca z serii Z.W.
When do you create the first work dedicated to Zdunska Wola?
ANS…I think it was a year ago …4/2013….
9. Czym są dla Ciebie, Twojej twórczości, kontakcie z odbiorcą nowe technologie takie jak google+, facebook, istagram, blog.
What Google+, facebook, istagram, blog (so new technology) mean to you?
ANS…The new technology comes closer to a translation, for everyone, of our actual world into his inherent physical components by scientific and mathematical procedures. But nevertheless what we call “the soul” remains a riddle. Anyway I like very much the new technologies and make extensive use of what they offer. Perhaps are they another facet of our mysterious soul..
10.Na jednej z Twoich prac postać wypowiada słowa, że “Zduńska Wola to emocje”, czym jest dla Ciebie Zduńska Wola.
On one of your work we can see a man saying “ Zdunska Wola it is emotions”, what Zdunska Wola means for you?
ANS…Well Zdunska Wola was and is an emotion for me. My feelings about the disappearance of what used to be the normal life of my family is a strong and painful emotion.
11.Na niektórych autoportretach podpisujesz się jako swoje alterego mieszkające w Zduńskiej Woli. Czym się różni Szlomo z Kibucu Massada od Szlomo ze Zduńskiej Woli?
Sometimes you sign your works as the alter ego of Shlomo living in Zdunska Wola. What is a difference between Shlomo from Massada Kibbutz and Shlomo of Zdunska Wola?
ANS…There is a difference….because there is no Shlomo in Zdunska Wola… perhaps in the Many World theory of quantum mechanics there is a real Shlomo in Zdunska Wola…. but in another world…
So to return to the question this is only another version a fantasy of myself put in the context of 1941 but I am living today in 2014 in kibbutz Massada in Israel.
12.Chciałbym spytać Cię o motyw prostej drogi, dokąd ona prowadzi?
You use also sometimes a long, straight way as a keynote. Where this way is going on?
ANS….Roads are means to reach some places or to escape from them…It depends on what you choose.
13.Kim jest krawiec i manekiny na Twoich obrazach? Czy są to manekiny Brunona Schultza? (nie wiem czy nie przegiąłem z tym BS)
Whom a tailor is in your Works? Are there any connotation to Bruno Shultz?
ANS…The tailor in my work is my father. That was his profession and the profession of my mother. Profession they imported from Zdunska Wola to Belgium. I know the work of Bruno Schultz but in my work there is no direct connotation with his his writings or artwork,
Below: from the video-art show.
See Video Art here