The video focuses on Ewa Maria Hołuszko (when she was born in Białystok on 8 July 1950, her given name was Marek Cyryl Hołuszko), a Polish dissident of the communist era, physicist, researcher of ethnic minorities and activist fighting for the rights of transgender people. Hołuszko was a Solidarity activist in 1980 (pseudonym Hardy), a member of the board of the Mazovia Region and the chair of the regional Intervention Commission. She headed the underground Inter-Enterprise Coordination Committee, in which she was responsible for printing and distributing samizdat press. After the imposition of martial law, she went into hiding and then was imprisoned in 1982–1983. She is a member of the Orthodox church and declares herself a believer. In 2000 she underwent a gender confirmation surgery, in 2006 she was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta by President Lech Kaczyński. The title Palimpsest, which is a manuscript page with the original text erased, not only points at erasure from memory and imposition of new meanings, but also indicates processes of layering and complexity of history.
In the video by Paweł Grześ, the intimate story undermines the unambiguity of historical symbols that are intended to define national identity, such as the mythologised Solidarity or the heroic Polish priest Popiełuszko. The film, which is the artist’s graduation work shot nine years ago, looks at events from 30 years ago to reveal the mechanisms of commemorating, ideologising, simplifying and manipulating history.
photo: Małgorzata Kujda