Tuesday, July 29, 2008

the annual linkuva street fair






festival time in Linkuva. I've sat next to a woman who smelt of moth balls on the bus. I try to remain inconspicuous. Small camera in pocket, laptop nowhere to be seen, smile, nod, labas, hello, yes, da...
I've played pictionary with a priest and found my way to the cemetery. I've walked amongst old crosses and took photos of storks with nests on telephone poles. I've seen the pope in purple parade down the street with excited smug children by his side.
90's techno competes with a whistle -smells of dung and wood-chips - overweight beige pants clutching salticrax and green balloons. It's Sunday today.

siaulia


Elton John, pigtails, Adidas tracksuits, little old ladies with scarves on their heads, mullets on middle aged women with prams and babies and unpronounceable bright red sunglasses on little pink girls who wear yellow pants and have no idea where they are in relation to outside the town.
Sialia - pronounced Shaluei. And more men in all white have passed me that is normal or allowed. It's a sunny afternoon in Siaulia
and all my things are down the rd in the nice-enough hostel.
Anthony Goldstein lookalikes have passed me twice
and a man wearing ray bans - not out of any wish to look cool - but he does, without even realizing it.
Luminous bright pink tight tops with luminous red hair and high heels pass me. people watching in Sialia. No internet and no information. Only a promise of a bus to Linkuva.

kaunas





5 11 pm Lithuania time. I’m in Kovno, Kaunas. Took today to get to te old Jewish town. I walked trough roads of wooden houses with old chimneys and brick window sills. Small houses lined up in a row on mud roads with children playing on bikes outside. Run down, paint peeling, wood chipping, black from years exposed to the elements, old garage doors rusted with bolts and padlocks and old men wondering why and what my reasons are for taking photographs.
And then there are sweet old people talking to me in Lithuanian. We speak across an old photograph with scribbles on it. I show them a date, 1943 and the word ghetto. She gets it, says something and smiles. Points out through sign language that she has been around since 1945, after the war. Though broken signs and lots of pointing we get back to the ‘archives’. I find out where on the map Maraja rd is. There is a reason for everything. I walk away from the old couple with large hands and dust on their clothes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

huge debrief needed


I'm on a bus through to Oxford, wireless en route. I've been through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, Copenhagen, Edinburgh and London and soon to see Oxford - all within the last three /four weeks. I'm exhausted and on the brink of bad health, but inspired.
Instead of recounting all step by step ,I'll take you through some of my ramblings and attach pictures alongside.
Too much to try and sum up. I feel it's going to take me a long time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

auschwitz

video

a small bird makes its way across what was a deathly strip between barbed wires.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

drinking coffee in bialystock

I am officially in the town where my dad's parents come from. It is not quite as pretty as Krakow!!! But it is interesting, less full of tourists and definitely in the eastern block. I've been taken in by a very sweet guy who was picking up a friend from the station. He's young, very sweet and has let me stay in his flat for two nights... :-) The flat is located in a suburb filled with multi coloured blocks. It feels very surreal, like i'm on a film set of something about 30 years ago.
I've just been to Jurowieca 5, which is the address I had of dad's parents. No trace really of any houses or flats as it's now a market. I wasn't really expecting to find anything but bought a whole bunch of fresh cherries..

My next mission is to visit the Churches. I believe the "Chalef" family may have had something to do with the carving of the church pews. I'm on the trail people..

Sunday, July 6, 2008

traces of an old town





All around Krakow's old Jewish quarter are chalk outlines reminding us that there are only traces of what was once a thriving, lived in, bustling, Jewish area.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

berlin retrospective







So I thought I should include a few pics of my time in Berlin with Karen. It was a fabulously inspiring, crazy full week of meeting some incredibly inspiring people. I'm now in Krakow but wanted to post some of the moments of my past week before I went into my observations here in Poland.

Euro Cup has been happening for the past few weeks and I ended up at this place called Tante Khate, a former death strip - area between the two walls that made up the Berlin wall. It was so ironic and interesting to sit cheering on Germany on this site.

Another highlight was going to all the makeshift arts spaces. There seems to be a trend of using spaces quite imaginatively. Old buildings are turned into gallery spaces, cafes and installations. And people seem genuinely conscious of the location in which they do these things and how this affects their response to the site. I met a group of guys doing really interesting work in a place they call Skulpturenpark. No sculptures actually exist on the site. Instead it sits as an area where artists are able to respond site-specifically to its location. And like Tante Khate, it too was once a death strip. Now it looks like an overgrown green belt.

Then there are these bizarre beach cafes everywhere. It seems that the Germans enjoy the idea of 'chilling' out by the sea. So despite being in the centre of a city, you can find yourself on a fold out chair overlooking the river with sand beneath your feet! Karen and I had a great moment chilling next to the river on a boat with others sunning themselves next to us.

Friday, July 4, 2008