pozdrowienia z alei jerozolimskich

Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue

Author: Joanna Rajkowska

Cooperation: Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Foundation Institute of the Promotion of Art
Michal Rudnicki (architect), Katarzyna Lyszkowicz (Foundation Institute of the Promotion of Art)

Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue is a public project in the urban space. Its main element consists of an artificial canary island date palm: Phoenix Canariensis, which is located at the junction of Jerusalem Avenue and Nowy Swiat Street, on the traffic island at de Gaule Circle in Warsaw.

phot. Konrad Pustoła, Joanna Rajkowska

The palm was erected on the 12th of December 2002, following one and a half year’s preparations. Origins of the project date back to the artist’s journey to Israel in 2001 and her attempt to realise and the others aware of the significance of Jerusalem Avenue to Warsaw, the street’s history and the vacuum caused by the absence of Jewish community. It was supposed to be also a social experiment, testing whether the Polish society is ready to absorb such a culturally alien item. The spot at which the palm has been placed before the year 2002 had been used for a Christmas tree.

‘Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue’ project arose in a certain context and can not exist without it. It has been conceived as an vehicle of social change. It has changed the vision of a part of the city and caused previously transparent name: Jerusalem Avenue to loose its transparency.

The palm still sparks extreme feelings. It has divided Warsovians into those treating it as a symbol of a city and a society welcoming the others, developing, focused on the change, and those that support order, tradition and a city closed for strangers. The palm brings about many divisions and fuels conflicts deeply hidden in Polish society. It contains a lot of humour and irony as well, which saves it from definitions that could subdue it to any ideology.

For many people the palm is just an element of an urban space which has changed a part of Jerusalem Avenue and transformed part of the city centre. All the happenings, actions, protests, performances that take place under the palm set the meaning of the project. Initial hostility against the project turned into familiarity and liking. It became one of the capital’s symbols.