„Naród zatracenia” (Lost souls)

graphic novel published in polish version in the name of celebration of 70th anniversary of liquidation of Litzmannstadt Ghetto, in 2014 by The Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre in Łódź, Poland ; // ”Lost souls”, graphic novel in english version published in 2019 by the Foundation for Intermedia Development, Kraków, Poland
/exhibition, meetings, reviews, grant from The School of Art and Visual Studies at the University of Kentucky, with the support of the Donovan Foundation Grant, exhibition at the Niles Gallery, University of Kentucky in Lexington, USA, 2019 / curator: Dmitry Strakovsky

link to polish version of the book on The Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre web page.

The graphic novel “Lost Souls” was a collaboration of two authors: Mariusz Sołtysik – author of the illustrations, and Maciej Świerkocki – author of the treatment (idea) and all texts, including the English translations. It is a fiction about a foundling named David inspired by true events at the Litzmannstadt Ghetto in Łódź: the so-called ”Gehsperre Aktion”* in 1942 and the liquidation of the ghetto in 1944. 

/ Creative process 

Maciej invited me to work closely with him on a historical fiction. We decided to meet every two weeks. Every two weeks I made new sketches / drawings inspired by the ideas in his treatment, and every two weeks he wrote new texts inspired by my drawings (sketches). When we were about to finish one part, I started to do large format drawings. Our collaboration, or creative process, indeed, lasted two years. In 2014 our graphic novel was published by The Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre.

/ Reception

Our novel was one of the few that explored the nightmare of war and national traumas. After the Polish original of “Lost Souls” was published by the Marek Edelman Dialogue Centre in 2014, we received excellent reviews. Many studies appeared in the most important Polish literary magazines, e.g.: “Pionierskie przepracowywanie traum” (Pioneering Reprocessing of Traumas), K. Wojtaszczyk, ”Bliza”, issue 4 (21) 2014, “Niewidzialny patrzy” (The Invisible is Looking), M. Ratajczak, ”Odra” no. 3 March 2016, and invitations to exhibit the original plates (not prints) as part of the “Made in Polin” event at the 2016/2017 exhibition “Follow The Story Lines” at Polin – Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw (which bought original drawing to the museum collection), and to participate in and exhibit prints at the 2015 “Conrad Festival” at Krakow’s Pasaż Club. 

As a result of those events, The Donovan Foundation Grant at the University of Kentucky granted us their award for outstanding artistic achievements. 

My stay at the University of Kentucky included an exhibition, lectures, workshops, and a conference. The English-language version of the graphic novel ”Lost Souls” was disseminated during an exhibition at the Niles Gallery at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, USA. I presented the exhibition in the author’s original arrangement and concept – in the form of printouts, and a 9-metre-long graffiti which, in this case, was a site-specific art work. The exhibition lasted from October 17 to 20 December 2019.

The format of the book is 16.5 cm × 21 cm. 128 pages. Black and white and red, offset and digital printing. Original drawing techniques: Chinese ink, Japanese Copic ink, and paint on paper: 50 cm × 70 cm.

* ”Gehsperre Aktion” (roughly translates as ”Lock-up Action”) was a deportation of 15 681 children from the Lodz Ghetto to Chełmno death camp (German: Kulmhof) in September 1942.