Idź na Wschód! Go East!

In the 20th century Warsaw had experienced many dramatic moments: from war and occupation to forced emigration. Wola, a district where the Warsaw Ghetto was located, found itself in the middle of these events. Despite the great success of regaining independence in the last twenty years, a part of the Polish and Warsaw (especially Wola) heritage was irretrievably lost leaving no influence on the national identity. The cosmopolitanism and relative diversity that were once a staple of Warsaw are today little more than historical souvenir or pastiche. Despite the relatively small current population of the villages (around around 200 each), the Polish Tatars stand as a reminder to an alternative reference in the creation of the current Polish national identity.

Idź na Wschód! consisted of a billboard in central Warsaw and day-trip to Bohoniki and Kruszyniany, an area called ’Polish Tatarstan’, located near the Bieolrussian border, where two Tatar villages offer an ideal model of progressive Islam via the creolized vernacular architecture of the wooden mosque and the liberal relationship between men and women.

2009
10 x 7.5 m billboard on building of Piekarnia Wolska, Warsaw, 1 Św. Stanisław Street and one-day trip to Bohoniki and Kruszyniany. Wola Art Festival 2009 curated by Sarmen Beglarian, Sylwia Szymaniak. First photograph by Igor Omulecki.

The billboard
In central Warsaw with Charles Bronson, né Karol Buczynski of ’Once Upon a Time in the West’ fame, whose cheekbones and eyes were often mistaken for Mexican or Native American but were in fact Lipka Tatar.

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