Search This Blog

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Mapping, history, identity and crime

Map of Greater Poland painted as a work of art in 1984
I spent 4 days in Krakow Poland last week. I give it full marks as a short break destination and I did not visit the two most well known tourist destinations, the salt mines (from which Krakow got its medieval wealth) and Auschwich-Birkenau the notorious concentration and death camp of WW2.

I did of course go to the National Museum which contains 20th century Polish Art. A dreadful century for the Polish nation. The art had a bleakness strongly tempered by defiance. None more so than this work  that shows the greatest extent of the Polish nation painted at a time when the national borders had shrunk and been under oppressive foreign rule for over 40 years.

Maps can be powerful symbols of identity that point to conflict, brutalities and crimes of violence, but also heroism, cohesion and the undying human spirit in the face of tyranny.