“I don't know how to be happy, as I don't know what death's in store. In a grove of sandalwood trees, where daemons and angels sing, stinging with its wise tongue and a howl of trembling strings the flaming Fire-Bird crows, shaking me to my core.”.
Zuzanna Ginczanka, “Żar-Ptak (Fire-Bird)”, 1937
Photos: Gabi von Seltmann (Ginczanka. Fire-Bird, 22. Nov. 2017 at Teatr Polski, Warsaw)
© Gabi von Seltmann (all rights reserved).
Zuzanna Ginczanka - Zuzanna Gincburg (born in 1917 in Kiev, killed in 1944 in Krakow) was a visionary poet who loved life and found delight in words.
She published her work as part of the Skamander group, featuring the finest Polish poets at work in the inter-War period. Well-known in Warsaw's bohemian circles, she was highly regarded by the great Julian Tuwim and Witold Gombrowicz. An emancipated, charismatic woman, she spent her entire life trying to elude stereotypes.
Ginczanka was a Jew who experienced wartime escape and betrayal. Arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and shot, memory of her words vanished from the world's literary landscape – only now to return with renewed force.
“Ginczanka. Żar-Ptak/Fire-Bird” is a concert which blends the languages of theatre, music and visual arts. The artists involved create a live collage which brings the person and the poetry of Zuzanna Ginczanka to life. We ask questions about ghosts of the past which return to us in a time of fascist resurgence in our world – is it not our duty to ask: what happened to the lessons we learnt from history? Is this the last chance we have to stop things disintegrating?
The project has come about through a deep sense of need for change. We want the audience to learn more about Zuzanna Ginczanka – an emancipated Woman and Poet of Jewish origin killed during WWII. We want Ginczanka to become an icebreaker which will allow hundreds of other women to tell their stories in her wake. It is time!
The visual projections were formed of images shot during Ginczanka's time, a video-collage cut of experimental films, avant-garde footage and amateur clips, inspired and relating to Ginczanka's verses. The film fragments add to the emotional and visual experience of the show.
Ginczanka. Żar-Ptak/Fire-Bird has been created by all the artists involved, supported by the Art, History & Apfelstrudel Foundation and the Education, Art, Freedom Foundation.
Duration: 70 minutes
Language: Polish with English subtitles; Hebrew and German subtitles work in progress
Artists Kamilla Baar-Kochańska: performance, improvisation Dorota Jarema: music, vocals Paweł Szamburski: music, improvisation Bożena Keff: text Robert Bęza: video-collage and VJ-ing during the show Marek Kazmierski: translations Gabi von Seltmann: artistic concept, staging
Short Artist Bios
Kamilla Baar-Kochanska is an actress well known from a range of TV and stage work, regularly appearing at the National Theatre in Warsaw.
Dorota Jarema is an artist and singer and composer gifted with an unusual timbre of voice which she uses as an instrument. She moves freely between many musical styles.
Paweł Szamburski (clarinet) is musician, improviser and composer who is active on the improvisational music and independent art scenes.
Bożena Keff is a poet, journalist and literary researcher. She teaches philosophy and gender studies at Warsaw University and SWPS in Warsaw.
Robert Bęza designs and produces video collages and VJ sets.
Marek Kazmierski is a writer, translator and publisher.
Gabi von Seltmann is an interdisciplinary artist and animator of culture. Using various art forms, she seeks answers to questions about memory, identity and the implications of history.
Invoking Zuzanna Ginczanka: Translation in a Time of Love and War
Zuzanna Ginczanka, born exactly 100 years ago, was many things to many people – an orphan, a teenage girl in search of identity, a female artist struggling for acceptance in a male-dominated literary world, a sudden celebrity in the “belle époque” of pre-WWII Warsaw, a visionary in search of a true voice, a refugee without nationality, a woman trapped in a loveless marriage... and, last yet far from least, one of the final victims of the Holocaust.
On Sana and her dark Stars
Zuzanna Ginczanka was born in March of 1917, yet what we know about her life becomes more and more faint with every year which passes from then on... we know a great deal about her childhood, some things about her early adulthood and so very little about her death. She remains almost completely unknown outside of Poland's literary circles, even though – in spite of her youth, gender and origins – she was one of the most renowned Polish poets of her time.
For 123 years, between the 18th and 20th centuries, Poland did not exist, having been partitioned and swamped by other empires. In this sense, Ginczanka and Poland were born at exactly the same time, but even though she changed her name and became one of its most renowned literary voices, Ginczanka was never assigned Polish citizenship. Her whole life was that of a stateless “global exile” – the only travel document she ever had was a Nansen passport, issued to those without official nationality.
In 1939, after the Nazis invaded from the west and the Soviets from the east, Poland once again vanished from the maps, becoming German-occupied “General Government”. Ginczanka escaped back east, from Rivne to Lviv, where she was betrayed – an experience described in her most famous poem Non Omnis Moriar / Not All Of Me Will Die. Although that one remarkable work of art survived the War, and was then used as evidence to convict her betrayer of crimes against humanity, Ginczanka was not so lucky – she was once more arrested by the Gestapo in Krakow and killed not long before the War was to end.
A century on from her birth, 73 years from the date of her tragic death, she still has no grave nor public archive, while books of her poetry are next to impossible to find... they keep on being published, sell out, then vanish again, like comets which pass us by from time to time, trapped in invisible orbits.
Source: Marek Kazmierski, Culture.pl
JUSTIFIED IN THE MARGINS
I did not come
so I won't go back
I did not come
so I am not heaven-bound.
I myself am heaven,
a sky of purest glass.
And earth itself am I,
a child of native ground.
I did not run
so I won't be running
Apart from my own self, all else is unconfined.
My lungs bellowing wind
all sediments do crack
and I, fragmented,
Zuzanna Ginczanka (O centaurach, Warsaw 1936).
Lynxes, wildcats and pumas skinned and softly stuffed,
foxes with yellow linings, eyes of yellowest glass,
oh fleece wildly undone, stretched but never bluffed,
oh mornings wildly spun
as dreams stretched and as fast.
Oh thick, lupine needles, supine evergreen hair,
chaos of bear-like bristles,
wild days starting to bud —
— I comb with sharp disdain
my years like a pelt unfurled,
soft, downy fur,
Zuzanna Ginczanka (O centaurach, Warsaw 1936)
NOT ALL OF ME WILL DIE*
Non omnis moriar – not my proud estate,
Meadow table cloths, wardrobe castles strong,
Acres of fine bedsheets, linen treasures great,
And dresses, light dresses – these are my swan song.
Because I leave behind not a single heir,
Let your hungry hands through my Jew things browse,
Ms Chomin of Lviv, landlady betrayer,
Nazi true informant, if conscience allows.
You and your loved ones, recall my name and face
As you remembered me when the Gestapo came,
Minding to lead them to my hiding place.
They recognised me then. Now, remember again
As you drink to my grave and supposed wealth:
Fine drapes, candlesticks, my remains your prize:
Goblets raise, friends, to your lasting health,
Drink all night, drink! And when the cockerel cries
Start hunting for gemstones, digging round for gold
Through mattresses, sofas, furnishings what may
The bounty you seek, the treasures you want hold
As you go tearing through stuffed horsehair and hay.
Feathers ripped from cushions, clouds of gutted quilts
Will snow upon your hands, turn your arms to wings,
Pure white down will bind with my blood congealed,
Letting you take flight, my angels, my kings. Zuzanna Ginczanka, hand-written by the poet while in hiding, after 1942
* non omnis moriar (latin.) -“not all of me will die”, a well-known line from a Horace poem, adapted by Juliusz Słowacki for his legendary verse Mój testament / My testament
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