Olga Jitlina, Alejandro Ramirez

Chór Benjamina / Benjamin Choir,  2015

video projection

the wall of the building at 6 Na Zaspę Street

The German Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin embarked on writing On the Concept of History in 1940 in a concentration camp in occupied France. Later that year, after his failed attempt to cross the border into Spain, Benjamin committed suicide. In his acclaimed texts, which combined the tradition of Jewish messianism with Western materialism, he raised the theme of the redemption of the past. Walking around Nowy Port, Olga Jitlina and Alejandro Ramirez looked around stairways and back yards, circled the small streets and promenaded along the canal. They were looking for historic traces of the events at Westerplatte, the Gdańsk Shipyard and the Solidarność movement – trying to capture ‘an irretrievable picture of the past, which threatens to disappear with every present moment, which does not recognise itself as meant in it’, as Walter Benjamin would have said. Residents of Nowy Port, who have for the best part of their life experienced historic transformations, sing a fragment of the work by Walter Benjamin with accompaniment by a professional cello player Anna Jankowska. An amateur choir sings Benjamin’s canonic essay, inviting reflection on the contemporary resonance of the text as well as the historic significance of the place. The locals sing the text as a choir and also individually to the tune of La Folia by Arcangelo Corelli, a popular baroque tune, the title of which can be translated as ‘madness’.

Choir: Iwona Chudowicz, Grażyna Gabryszewska, Jacek Tomczak, Andrzej Liss
Man with flags, sound assistant: Jan Hardy
Camera assistant: Leonard Kaczorowski
Cello: Anna Jankowska

Olga Jitlina (b. 1982) – studied art theory and history at the Russian Academy of Arts and philology at the Institute of Judaism. In her artistic practice, she tackles the legal and illegal ways in which marginalised social groups attempt to survive, particularly in the context of the post-Soviet reality. Together with Andrey Yakimov, a human rights activist, she has made a board game called The Land of Opportunity (2012), which projects the potential destinies of the millions of immigrants who arrive in the Russian Federation from the former Soviet republics.

Alejandro Ramirez (b. 1978) – he studied film production at the National University of Colombia and fine arts at the Utrecht Graduate School of Art and Design (MaHKU). Language of the media, political discourse and the construction of memory. In his works he talks about ideologies and perception in confrontation with the issue of migration and economic processes. He employs speculation, science fiction, philosophy and improvisation in an alternative interpretation of reality.


Instytut Kultury Miejskiej

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Media contact: marta.bednarska@ikm.gda.pl, tel. 784 594 003


Narracje 7

Narracje 7