On 1 June 2019 a palm withered in Warsaw. This in itself would have been hardly surprising as June 2019 was one of the hottest months on record and plants would die down in large numbers. Yet the palm that dried down was in fact Joanna Rajkowska's installation Greetings from Jerozolimskie Avenue. The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, which "takes care" of the palm tree, issued the following statement on this matter: "For years, the palm tree has been an active participant in cultural and political life, taking part in demonstrations and engaging in political and artistic actions. [...] In the face of the deepening climate crisis, the exotic tree gained a new meaning: it became a sign of dangerous changes and a warning signal placed in the centre of Warsaw". These two sentences brought out the duality inscribed in the project: undermining the fluidity and stability of social life and indicating the constant broadening of the field of reference. The withered leaves not only include the Palm in the debate about the climate catastrophe, but also remind us that since its inception, it has been a testimony to catastrophe and conflict.
Our joint reading will include a few (excerpts) of texts and a photograph of a withered Palm. We will explore how Palm absorbs different topics, what interlacing it shows and how it bears witness to disasters. Moreover, together we will think about what it says about the ends of history.
moderator: Joanna B. Bednarek