Dreams sometimes come true.  Recently, I realized a dream when, in the presence of a great many guests, residents, artists, friends and family members, with great fanfare we opened the “Adi Polani” exhibition at the “Mishkan Gallery” – Myerov House in Holon, for which I am the curator.

This exhibit is actually two exhibits combined.  One is an international jewelry exhibition that took place in Poland.  All of its displays were created in order to transmit messages of social and ideological protest, rebellion, and outcry.  The second is an exhibit of jewelry that I gathered over the years during my visits to Poland while searching for traces of my father’s family, which was murdered in the Holocaust.  The two exhibitions are presented under a single roof, bringing about an unusual encounter between different worlds and eras, because, among other things, I chose to “wrap” the walls of the gallery with authentic photographs portraying life in Poland during the 1930s.

This interplay between the displayed items and the photographs creates an inevitable association in the mind of the visitor between a world that no longer exists and our current world, and again raises the big issues concerning the ability of a single person and an entire society to perceive reality, realize its significance at the time, and rise up or protest.

On the ground floor, about 50 pieces of jewelry and items are displayed by artists from 43 countries around the world, who use their art to express protest.  The jewelry pieces are a select collection from an international exhibit and competition on the subject of “uprising”, which took place for the 22nd time this year in the city of Legnica, Poland.  625 works were sent to the competition by 319 artists dealing, each in his own way, with the social tensions fed by economic crises and rising unemployment rates, while hinting at mass protest.

The jewelry displayed is made of materials and objects that are unusual in jewelry-making, including wood, paper, glass, chipboard, plastic, and – a dead dove, a dog-fur coat, dog food, a horse hoof, fish skins, chewing gum, a dried apple, razor blades, Lego, and even coffee powder or beans.  They were all designed by young and sharp modern designers expressing their opinions on a variety of social phenomena in a penetrating way that cannot leave the viewer apathetic.

I placed the jewelry in an unusual manner, for instance on recently peeled tree bark.  The walls are covered with authentic photographs taken in Warsaw.  In the entry hall, there is a photograph of the “Polanya” luxury hotel in Warsaw, designed by Michael Paticz Borkovski, and the internal hall contains streets and buildings of Warsaw from the previous century displaying magnificent and impressive urban architecture.

I chose to dedicate the top floor to jewelry that I gathered over the years, all made of simple and inexpensive materials, some recycled, and all with a very modern look.  The jewelry is displayed against a background of photographs that have been handed down from generation to generation in my family and other families, which remain as silent witnesses to life in Poland before the war: men, women, young girls and families, handsome people clothed in the best and most up-to-date fashion, spending time at nature and leisure sites, enjoying a vibrant urban life, a life of blossoming culture and commerce, economic well-being, family celebrations and leisure activities.

The contrast between the idealized scenes of the 1930s in Poland and the modern art of protest creates a sense of discomfort and conflict, and arouses each person’s private associations together with the collective contexts.  Personally, it was not easy at all for me to go back and look at the faces and images, to wonder what of them is in me and in my children, and what might have been…

Visit Adi Polani website: www.adippolani.folyou.com