First for Kapoor as Poles open Blood exhibition

The exhibition was first seen at the Jewish Museum in London


An exhibition first seen at the Jewish Museum in London has opened in Poland, featuring the country’s first presentation of a work by world-renowned Jewish sculptor Anish Kapoor. 

The exhibition, Blood: Uniting and Dividing, was praised as “fascinating” and “remarkable” during its four-month run in the UK from late 2015 to early 2016.

It used art, film and literature to reflect on how blood is integral to Jewish ritual around food, sex and circumcision. 

It is now on show in Warsaw at the POLIN: Museum of the History of Polish Jews, until late January. 

Joanne Rosenthal who curated the original exhibition, helped with the installation in Poland.

She said: “When Blood launched two years ago we were very keen to encourage other Jewish museums across the world to consider it,” she said, adding that after Warsaw, the display will be moving to the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow. 

“It’s a real delight that the exhibition is having the legacy that it is,” she added.

Dr Małgorzata Stolarska-Fronia, curator of the Polish version, said that the original concept had been developed with “new threads and objects added to it”.

She explained: “My main goal is to present the subject of blood in the Jewish culture in the most comprehensible fashion, to show that in Judaism — similarly to other cultures — blood is vital, being part of both religious and daily life. 

“It is not veiled with a dark aura of eerie rituals; the approach to blood stems from deep moral and spiritual tenets, and is linked to medicinal practices which are very similar for Jews and Christians. That is the challenge of this exhibition. 

“I do hope that is also its strength — pointing out the facts and challenging stereotypes, especially in the context of Christian-Jewish relations. 

“The taboo of blood — different in Jewish and Christian cultures — could thus be somewhat broken; owing to the knowledge gained while touring the exhibition, it will become less unfamiliar.”

As well as works by Polish artists, Sir Anish’s acylic and steel piece Blood Cinema will also be on display. It was described by the Warsaw-museum as a “an autonomous entity, a prologue to the exhibition of sorts”.

Ms Rosenthal said the size of the Jewish museum in Warsaw had enabled them to develop a larger exhibition, including many specific Polish items, as well as more works of art. 

“One of the things that the museum here really wanted to do in the initial exhibition was complement the historical material that we were gathering together with art pieces”, she said. 

“The exhibition is about very dense, heavy, complex ideas, there’s a lot to take in, and what art does is help you reflect and give you a visual breathing space.”

Joanne Rosenthal (left) working with a Polish colleague. Right: a flyer for the exhibition

Anish Kapoor

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