Maya Gordon Goes To Chorzów
Film, 30 min.
This documentary by Joanna Rajkowska follows the 58-year-old artist Maya Gordon on her trip to Chorzów in Silesia, Poland. Gordon was born there in 1947, then emigrated to Israel when she was ten years old. Later she studied art at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and in the Netherlands, where she has lived since the mid-1970s. Despite spending most of her life in Israel or the Netherlands, Gordon still feels rooted in Polish culture, while simultaneously experiencing feelings of alienation towards Poland and all the places she lived in, a feeling shared by many immigrants.
It is the first time that she returns to her birthplace, bringing all her projections, hopes, and expectations of a better future with her, trying to make a decision about whether to live in Poland again. For the film, she rents an apartment in Warsaw for several months. Rajkowska documents Gordon’s struggle with relocating her memory, finding her roots, and dealing with her identity, while the friendship between the two women becomes an important part of the film itself. Above all, the film is about the complexity of Jewish-Polish relations – a matter of particular interest in other works by Joanna Rajkowska.
The journey ends in disappointment. Maya Gordon does not manage to connect with the Poland she left and there is a bitter note: “That’s not the film I wanted to make at all. I’m…. I’m very frightened. I’m…. how do you call it…. I’m exposing myself, and without any reason for doing so.”
The film shows an attempt to rewrite the past into the present and its failure—ultimately the trauma of displacement cannot be overcome.
Joanna Rajkowska (*1968, in Bydgoszcz, Poland), studied art in Kraków and New York, art history at the Jagiellonian University, Kraków and is a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, London. She lives and works in London and Nowogród, Poland.