Auschwitz on Sale

Joanna Zabielska

How to bring Auschwitz self-reflection to the public space? A temporary and inflatable installation put in various historically loaded places in Cracow turns into an attempt to create an alternative monument based on social interactions.

Last year Auschwitz statistics hit a record of 1,43 million visitors. It became one of the most visited sites in Poland. Besides a majority consistent of Poles, most of visitors are from Great Britain and the United States followed by Italians, Germans and Israelis. With the appearance of international visitors, the tourist market got enrichted with numerous Auschwitz tours packages.

Small private tourist agencies from Cracow seem particularly active in this field. Their tour creativity and advertisements know hardly any borders, combining e.g. an Auschwitz and Wieliczka combo tour with a Kalashnikov Shooting adventure - on the same flyer. Bold price, high discount, travelers tips, included services, sights list, timetable, colorful eye catchers: such a design passes on a very clear message: Auschwitz is a commercialized tourist attraction. Is that real? Is that right? What is Auschwitz today? What should it be? What does it mean to me? And to the others?

Obviously I cannot give one correct answer to all those questions. As there is no one Auschwitz either. It's completely differently by the family members of camp survivors, inhabitants of the nearby city Oswiecim, Jewish students on their Polish trip or English backpackers on the Eurotrip. Each one has his or her own personal Auschwitz perception and understanding. For me Auschwitz is an important memorial, a space of human tragedy, a huge cemetary, a space of living, place of encounter, tourist attraction, museum, space of commerce, virtual space, political space but above all: a space of education. For others it can be all of the listed notions or none.

How to deal with a topic so hard to approach? Which artistic strategies should I develop to get closer to the unapproachable?



© Joanna Zabielska


© Joanna Zabielska


Joanna Zabielska