I caught the work of Bartana in Venice the other week and found it to possibly be some of the best in the whole show, though that could be down to my pre-disposition for constructed fictions. She imagines a movement - a Jewish renaissance in Poland, the films focus around the birth of the movement, an experimental kibbutz in the heart of Warsaw and finally the death of the movement's leader and a grandiose mourning ceremony. The films tread a careful line between documentary and propaganda and bare many of the hallmarks of classic Soviet propaganda in the aesthetics and the language used. The films have attracted some controversy, they were shown at the Polish pavilion under the title And Europe Will Be Stunned at the Biennale, despite Bartel being Israeli and living in the Netherlands, and one only has to read the youtube comments to see how much animosity her work has attracted from native Poles.
It's certainly the type of work I'd like to make one day and it appeals to me aesthetically, I haven't done much work that deals directly with people for who they are; a race or a belief system, and the way she's aimed the work back at Poland through the use of a communist propaganda aesthetic, turning it into a satire of the nation that she produced it for is certainly very admirable. It's also funny, and funny is a powerful way to make work.
Below is a clip from the first in the series called Nightmares