did you know that in the Jewish culture an olive twig symbolizes victory and rebirth? And at the 35th anniversary of the victory of Jewish nazism over Polish nation in Jerusalem Avenue - do you understand that? - JERUSALEM, they put a palm!
- Excuse me, but what does a palm and an olive twig have in common?
- Don’t be naive, they couldn’t do it in such a direct way. This palm is a symbol of Jewish victory over Polish nation. They pay 100.000 dollars a year, for that palm!
I am curious what makes the discussion about public space so excluding. What processes undergo in the public debate and our idea of the city, that some people perceive the palm as competing with priest Popieluszko, while others see Pink Deer as a victory over Polish Catholicism? How did it happen, that the public space, which in a democratic utopia is meant to be a meeting place for the different but equal, becomes a bloody battlefield in the name of god-honour-motherland or against them?
Strolling among pink, shining deer – plastic urban exhilarators placed on a riverside square in Warsaw, I meet a man in his fifties, who is charmed by the sculptures – seen for the first time – and says: ‘Wow, it’s cool! But surely someone’s going to say, as it happened with the palm at de Gaulle circle, that a priest Jerzy’s monument should have been be placed here.’ So man’s enchantment wasn’t of an aesthetical nature, rather than a joy of a political victory.
Artistic interventions into urban space in order to give them exotic and unusual touch that would employ the mind. Am I asking for too much? The emerging of Rajkowska’s palm at the circle boosted my expectations for more such actions, joyfully defying the dullness and vagueness of our surroundings. Alas, it was all blown out with an unpleasant thrill of disappointment. Does it mean that such a daring - in its simplicity – act of erecting a palm, being equally exotic to – as seen from years’ distance - giant Soviet Palace of Culture, did not strike anybody with its grotesqueness strong enough to spark reckless and mad ideas in them?
Does Warsaw, being in fact rather ugly city (I am a native Warsovian, madly in love in his city), not deserve something crazy? Extravagant? Striking? Do you know what is tourists’ no. 2 spot after they’ve photographed the Palace of Culture? The palm at de Gaulle circle. Rondos los Palmas.
And I keep telling, Warsaw can’t beat other cities with historical sites. It will never be like Krakow, Viena, Prague or Budapest in that respect. But it is out business to make it a modern, young city, with magnificent modern architecture, which is brave and open for new challenges.
I’m abroad now. I haven’t been back for almost a year. But I’m coming soon and I miss Warsaw and its residents. I learned to forgive it its lack of Krakow-like pubs, concrete Muranow, Wiatraczna circle after 8pm, provincialism and lack of historical buildings dating more than 60 years back. I miss those battered streets, 24/7 store on the bend and the palm at de Gaulle circle, which sometimes loses its plastic leaves.
What attracts me to the modern art is, on the other hand, creativity of its artists. An element of surprise: inventiveness, happening. For example, I was enchanted by Leon Tarasiewicz, who one day poured a tone of cement over Ujazdowski castle’s floor and coloured if beautifully, or the idea of the palm at de Gaulle circle alone, a palm which arose at Jerusalem Avenue. A spontaneous thing, but there is a message behind it or a provocation, but not violating the good taste. A thought-inspiring, universal art.
To sum it up, in my opinion the home of the museum for contemporary art should be fanciful, especially in Warsaw, where there is plenty of dull, conventional architecture. That building should be as impressive as the palm at de Gaulle circle… That’s the point!
“How do you like the palm, which was supposed to be a joke and a happening, but has grown into the urban space?
The palm is a cynical proof that we go bonkers ourselves. I feel humiliated by that palm, to say with a bit of exaggeration. I think that in our ugly city, run over by cars, erection of the palm was such a joke of a cynic.
And so it is. But I was really fond of it. And what’s really funny the palm have possibly done more for the Warsaw’s image abroad, and Poland’s as well, than all the policies of all town councils and mayors. Doesn’t this fellow know that this palm is legendary in New York, Washington or London? That is so brilliantly defies the stereotype of Polish lack of sense of humour?
We, signed below, Polish artists and writers relocated to sunny Florida from freezing Poland in the Martial Law time, associated in Solidarity movement, would like to express our solidarity with efforts of Polish artists and our deep concern regarding planned destruction of an artificial palm erected opposite the former Party’s Headquarters, at de Gaulle circle. This palm, a great victory of art over politics, will take its place in the history of triumphs of Polish Spirit. Artists’ effort was not wasted. Foreign tourists congratulate Poles their fantasy, and that was the point. Joanna Rajkowska’s palm seems to symbolise opening towards the world (…)
- I adore Rajkowska’s palm, just like you adore a woman, who attracts you with this mysterious thing. Being placed close to the stock exchange, it is a symbol of eternal boom for me.
It is quite symbolical for Warsaw, which disappears in the darkness at dusk. Palace of Culture looks like a space rocket at such moments. But I like it, same as the all-year skiing slope in Szczesliwicki park, although almost no one skis there. I also like the palm at de Gaulle circle.
Warsaw palm at de Gaulle circle, wrapped in some green plastics and scaffoldings, is apparently about to get new leaves and bark no sooner that at Children Day…
a quite elderly gentleman on a zebra crossing at the circle, looking at the palm with scaffolding, in a dreamy voice to a nearby woman: ‘they’re rejuvenating her…’
heard in passing