Otwock: Lieu de Mémoire

A visit to the former Jewish spa town of Otwock was a highlight of the programme of events for the 2012 Igor Zabel Prize in Warsaw last weekend and was led by celebrated Polish sculptor Miroslaw Balka and Kasia Redzisz, curator of  the town’s low key but thoroughly international public art project. Along with the privilege of an intimate tour of the artist’s childhood home and legendary studio, we saw a vandalised monument to several hundred North Korean orphans (pictured) who were displaced to the small town in the early 1950’s before being redeported six years later, our number 11 bus got stuck in the mud causing an unplanned schedule change, and we experienced a ruined mental hospital (pictured below), now haunted by paintball fanatics in military clothing with presumably little understanding of the traumatic history of the place or the value of the site specific intervention they inadvertently destroyed.

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