Narratives of Polish Migration
UN/SPOKEN ARCHIVES is a project by 1st year students of the Graphic Design department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy initiated and accompanied by the Werker Collective. To share our knowledge and stories we created a series of amateur archives based on our own desires, fears, passions, disappointments, obsessions, family memories and localities.

PARTICIPANTS: Eloïse Alliguié – Rafaela Aristodimou – Ysé Auguste-Dormeuil – William Becker – Philippine Bordeaux-Montrieux – Vinícius Cardoso Witte – Hyoyeong Chu – Kimberly Duck – Fanni Falucskai – Lola Frydman – Marie Gertsen – Kiki Gordon – Sigrídur Hafdís Hannesdóttir – Victoria Hoogstoël – Quirine Kennedy – Max Kessel – Jung Yeon Kim – Hagar van der Knijff – Lukasz Matuszewski – Natalia Ruhe – Luca Putz – Ran Reimann – Bram Romkes – Alyson Sillon – Martina Vanini

EDITING: Sigrídur Hafdís Hannesdóttir, Victoria Hoogstoël, Natalia Ruhe
IDENTITY DESIGN: William Becker, Jung Yeon Kim, Lukasz Matuszewski, Luca Putz
WEBDESIGN & PROGRAMMING: Eloïse Alliguié, Max Kessel
TYPEFACES: UNSPOKEN ARCHIVES by Luca Putz, ParaRubber by Léonard Mabille
* Luca Putz & Lukasz Matuszewski *

A conversation with Luca’s Dad and Lukasz’s grandpa about the narratives of emigration from Poland in their families. They are telling us about their history and discuss how their current life situations connect.

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Image missing :( Lukasz's family photos in Brazil

Lukasz's grandpa testimony

(English transcription of the Polish conversation between Lukasz and his grandfather)
Give me four professionals – an electrician, a builder and a mechanic, a good draftsman and I will design your project in two weeks. I was wondering how to start. The first thing was to overcome fear. At night in the Brazilian forest you can only see the eyes of hidden animals and you can hear the rustle of snakes, alligators. It is very dangerous. To walk in the jungle at night you have to have the guts. You must overcome your fears to be able to work there.

Working at night in the forest gives you a lot of time to think about life, about the earth, about space. In South America, the sky is much more starry and beautiful than the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. I liked watching moths, their wings have wonderful drawings. I remember one I called Corinthiana. I named her after the sports club Corinthians, that have the same colors as her - black and white. This moth has a lot of small black and white squares symmetrically arranged on the wings. When I saw it, I thought - you can’t be an atheist, you must believe in God. It's hard not to believe in God when you see a creature with such an amazing appearance. There must be something. Some powerful force capable of creating such fantastic things. How much information does such a moth or ant have to be able to live in a group, part of an organization with specific tasks. Who knows if in the future people working on improving technologies instead of using computers, let’s say physical sciences, will study biology, copy the animal's nervous systems and their memory.

Work in the jungle was so hard that sometimes when I fell asleep at home, and lights appeared on the wall, I thought a car was coming for me to go back to work, because there was a malfunction. I woke up at night, I couldn't sleep, the whole world was spinning, I thought I was falling out of bed. After rebuilding the entire mine, they sent me to London for a language course. The temperature was very high in the Amazon. I was exhausted from work. During the trip, at the airport in Rio de Janeiro, I felt so cold that I fainted. A doctor came and refused to let me on the plane. For forty minutes I convinced him that I could fly. We finally left, but with a long delay.

At the beginning I worked in a small company run by Poles. They felt honored to bring people from a communist country and give them the opportunity to have a new beginning in a democratic country. In Brazil, they said about me: he came as a mechanic on a ship and ended up as a great specialist engineer. Certain communist ideologies greatly helped me to adapt to the new environment. Why? Race equality, religion equality etc. I had a good relationship with people in Brazil. After three months they got me a job in a bigger and better company.

One day we decided to take a trip with employees, beer, grill etc. We got into a boat during the rainy season, with high water levels. At most, 15 cm were missing from the top of the boat to the water. The water stream quickly moved us away from our port. I decided to return to the port. We only needed five minutes to sail far from the shore. It took us forty minutes to get back to shore. We had to be careful not to overturn the boat. We reached the shore, left some things, took what was necessary and again went on a journey with the current of the river. We moored on such a beautiful island with a fabulous view and we began to party. We picked some points on a tree and shot pistols, rifles to see who shoots best. After some time, the ammunition ran out, we were making a barbecue. One of us went deep into the forest to pee. He returned very quickly because he saw an anteater. He said we must run. Anteaters are over 2m, they have very sharp claws. Enraged they can be very dangerous. The one who saw the anteater said that once as a student he was hunting in the wilderness. He met the anteater with his group. They surrounded him carefully and started shooting. The anteater was hard to beat, he wasn't injured. The ammunition was running out and the anteater had the strength to keep on attacking. Suddenly an Indian came out of the forest, looked for a broken branch, approached the anteater, struck his nose, and then the fight was over.

An Indian came to our house to help with housekeeping. He was one-eyed, his other eye was punctured. One day Janka got an amoeba. Amoeba is very difficult to treat. When the Indian heard about the amoeba, he fled the house, but returned the same day. He brought a gelatinous white ointment that had to be swallowed twice a day. After two weeks, this amoeba was cured.

There is such a disease called cobreiro - shingles. Janka got sick. We went to a friend of the doctor, he gave some medicine. The days passed, the disease did not pass. One woman told me that benzedeira is the only effective way to cure the disease. Benzedeira is an elderly woman who heals with herbs, prayers, sprinkles a sick place, etc. The benzedeira came and after two days the disease began to disappear. I went to this doctor and asked why he did not cure the disease with drugs, medicine and modern methods. Benzedeira used her herbs, drops and cured Janka. This doctor said that as a doctor, he can't say it, but the only way to cure this disease is benzedeira.

Image missing :( Luca's grandma at the postoffice, Detroit, 1953

Image missing :( Luca's family leaving Austria, 1953

Image missing :( The first time Luca's dad met his father, 1989

Image missing :( Luca's grandmas'letter to her parents in Austria, 1953

Image missing :( Luca's grandma's marriage

Image missing :( Luca's grandma emigrating to the US, 1953