(Warsaw) We are far from the tropics of Warsaw, however, a large palm tree that happily dominates the heart of the Polish capital has risen to the rank of its iconography, an art installation that its inhabitants cherish.
“It is like a strange creature from an unknown world.” Sebastian Sichoki, curator of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw and a curator of the artificial plant, says, “It is like something falling from the sky.”
Erected 18 years ago on a central roundabout, the large palm tree releases its steel trunk covered with real date bark towards the sky, crowned with mineral and plastic palm trees that have replaced its original natural leaves.
“The palm tree is an act that generates social energy … something through which you can express your fantasies, desires and fears,” Seechuki told France Press.
Supporter of many causes, the tree has already donned a large nurse’s headscarf in solidarity with the protesting nurses, and Lesbos has become an island of LGBT activists in bikinis and even anarchists have cut its leaves.
The police officers stationed in this central roundabout are nicknamed Miami Vice A reference to the popular American series set in the shade of suns hotter than those in Warsaw.
Date of absence
The project was born out of a trip to Israel where the Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska witnessed “tension and fear” at the time of the second intifada, the Palestinian uprising.
She told Agence France-Presse: “When I returned home, I had a great feeling that the Jews should only be here, and live in prosperity and happiness, and that this land should really be their home.”
Before World War II, Poland had the largest Jewish community in Europe, with 90% of its members perishing in the Holocaust and most of the survivors moving to live elsewhere.
“The palm is the fruit of this emptiness. A truly profound regret that we have lost something,” says M.I Rajkowska.
By planting a fake tree in the middle of one of the main arteries of the Polish capital – Jerusalem Street – she wanted to specifically draw attention to the local Jewish community at 18H The century that this street owes its name.
The palm tree project, called Greetings from Jerusalem Avenue, could be a social experiment to see how Poles interact with this foreign element.
Confronted with a strange specimen fixed in the traditional setting of the Christmas tree, many locals complained, believing that someone had lost their mind – or “got hit by a palm,” to use a popular Polish expression.
“There was real disgust, they were shocked. Especially the taxi drivers. They hate the palm tree,” notes the artist.
The tree has always had its enemies, and a passerby calls it “useless waste,” but a large portion of the townspeople love it.
“I was surprised at first, but now I can’t imagine this vertigo without the flippers.” “It’s exhilarating and relaxing,” retired Malgorzata Blaschic told AFP.
“It reminds me of the holidays. Finally, especially now, it would be nice to travel somewhere in search of similar landscapes.”
Publicity agent Bartosh Mateshowski remembers the heat wave when palm fronds were replaced by real dry leaves to draw attention to climate change.
“It’s good that by changing its appearance, the palm tree can show us if things are going in the right direction. Like a social scale,” the 44-year-old told AFP.
One of the dead leaves is now displayed in a window overlooking the palm tree, along with a large bird’s nest once discovered in its crown and a pro-environmental message “signed” from the tree.
“Have you just thought about how your grandchildren would operate, for example, a few hundred years? What air, water and temperature would they be at their disposal?”, We read.
A mature tree says: “Lift your sleeves and go to work – otherwise you lose your chance to escape.”