The Miami Art Museum’s summer offerings are labeled “Lights Out.” It’s appropriate for several reasons. First, the lights are indeed out in the museum’s now former space on Flagler Street for the summer, as it transitions into the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and sets up in its new home, scheduled to open on Biscayne Bay in its Herzog & de Meuron-designed building in early December.
But Lights Out also refers to its summer screening of art movies. There couldn’t be a better one than the three films unspooling on Thursday night at MDC’s Tower Theater in Little Havana. “and Europe will be stunned,” from Israeli artist Yael Bartana, was Poland’s entry in the Venice Biennale two years ago. How, one might ask, did a contemporary Israeli artist represent Poland (she was the first non-Pole ever to do so)? That’s part of this powerful trilogy.
That Central European country was home to one of the largest Jewish communities before World War II, and was also one of the largest killing grounds of that community once the war began, the terrain housing the most notorious death camps starting with Auschwitz.
Referencing this deep and tragic history between both peoples, Bartana starts her film series with a young Israeli making a speech to an empty Warsaw stadium, asking his people to return to their roots, and repopulate Poland to match the 3.3 million Jews that once lived there. It’s a reverse take on the movements of the first part of the 20th century, when Zionist leaders encouraged Jews to move to the ancient land of Israel and re-populate that land. The second film focuses on a Kibbutz also in Poland, constructed to look like the idealistic ones that popped up in the 1930s in Palestine, but which here sits on what once was the Warsaw Ghetto. The last in the trilogy takes place in the future, at the funeral of the leader of the “Jewish Renaissance Movement of Poland.”
The imagery and references to movements, youthful optimism, nationalism, ethnic pride, destruction, statelessness, are intentionally historical, retro and all-so current. “stunned” was the solo exhibit this spring at the Petzel Gallery in Chelsea. Excellent choice for a summer art excursion here in Miami.
“and Europe will be stunned” screens as part of PAMM’s Lights Out series at 7 p.m. on Thurs., July 18 at MDC’s Tower Theater, 1508 S.W. 8th St., Miami; $10; www.pamm.org.