© 2019 by Michelle Levy. 

Help me tell her story

Her name was Paulina.

A stirring life-story has emerged from the archives, sending me on a nine-month research and performance investigation in POLAND. 

 

What began as a haunting near the Czech-Polish border led to a quest to find my grandmother's birthplace, and eventually brought me something more expansive than my own family history. It brought me Paulina.

Who is Paulina? Ten pages of a fading testimony transcribed in Krakow in 1945 were all that appeared to exist of Paulina Hirsch, a Polish-Jewish woman traveling throughout Nazi-and Soviet-occupied Poland. The notetaker's introduction begins, “Sama" -- She is alone.

I was researching my great-grandmother in Poland when I was handed the witness survivor testimony this unknown relative, who navigated the Holocaust at the age I am now.

I am now in Warsaw, where the most vivid details of Paulina's account take place, working to shed light on this woman's story in the present. The research will culminate in a performative act of remembrance that retraces Paulina's path through Poland (and former Poland) with Polish artist/counterpart Patrycja Dołowy

 

The current political situation in Poland, where Holocaust history is under threat of being rewritten — amidst the global spread of nationalism that jeopardizes marginalized voices everywhere— increases the importance to give volume to Paulina's story now.

 

The results will be used to create a multimedia performance, accompanied by an exhibition and publication.

Will you help me tell Paulina's story? This is a self-organized project. I am working and traveling with a collaborating artist, consulting with archivists, documenting, producing and presenting in Poland for nine months. Your tax-deductible gift will make crucial aspects of these activities possible.

Supporters of Paulina (She is Alone) play a key role in this story.
 

In gratitude for your contribution, here is a giving guide + lesson in grandma's Yiddish (a once-common language in Poland):

 

Naches (joy) $10 +:  Bring an astral smile to the face of a long lost ancestor (and I will drink a shot of Polish vodka in your honor)

 

Saychel (common sense) $25:  I will send you regards on a vintage postcard from the region (Communist era, post-war, or other).

 

Mishpacha (extended family) $50: I will hand write you a personal letter during my journey, containing drawings and ephemera (and I will cross my fingers that you write back).

 

Rachmones (compassion) $100:  You will receive the above postcard and letter, plus two other surprise mailings. 

 

Mensch (person of noble character) $250:  I will make you a personalized video revealing behind-the-scenes clips, and a secret message said to you in Polish.

 

Kvell-ing (beaming with pride) $500:  I will make you an original work on paper (print, collage, drawing, hand-sewn elements) composed from images found, altered, and created during the time in Poland, also containing a secret message in Polish.* 

 

Ver klempt (all choked up) $1000:  You will become the proud owner of a lovingly assembled keepsake analog photo album containing printed archival photos from the journey, along with notes and ephemera. You will be listed as a sponsor on all materials related to the travel research, and performance presentations in 2018/2019.

 

B'shert (meant to be) $2500 +:  You will be listed as a sponsor on all related materials, in perpetuity, of every iteration of this project moving forward, plus you will receive all of the above.

 

Art objects will be created upon return from the trip, and sent late summer of 2019.
 

** If you prefer to pay with a check, please make it out to Brooklyn Arts Council, and make sure to state the name of the project "Paulina (she is alone)" in the note section on the check. Mail the check attn to:

 

Grants and Services

Brooklyn Arts Council

20 Jay Street, Suite 616

Brooklyn, NY 11201

 

Current research for this project is made possible thanks to the cooperation of the 

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, with additional research support provided by the Emmanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute.

Paulina (She is Alone) is a fiscally sponsored project of the Brooklyn Arts Council