A space of memory - talks with Judyta Papp, the author and producer of the 'JP2 Love' project
Posted by Anna Bernat
John Paul II through multimedia is an exclusive album edition and an Internet version on web platforms and on Facebook. A project on an international scale in two languages (Polish and English), involving Polish and world authorities. What is it actually?
Judyta Papp: It is an attempt at a reflection on how we perceive John Paul II. It is a question of what has remained in us out of such a rich personality of that great man and should enrich the space of interpersonal communication. An offbeat album, including Karol Wojtyla's poetry fragments, will constitute an inspiring element of this space. Using the Internet communication we will present photographs, films, quotes and opinions from well-known experts and famous people, surveys and discussions. Web platforms: JP2Love.pl in Polish and JP2Love.com in English, are a dynamic part of this project. The website is adjusted to running smoothly on all mobile devices and is linked to its own Facebook page. Rich and diversified content is aimed at wide circles of users in the world. Our project is constantly being developed as new ideas arise. It is a characteristic feature of open communication, in which the content is constantly expanding, thanks to the authors, users and invited stars.
How was the idea of JP2 Love conceived?
Judyta Papp: Our main goal is to do something that will help in keeping the memory of the Polish Pope alive, the memory of His appeal of love and need for interpersonal dialogue. At the same time, we want not only to preserve what we already know about the Pope, but also to enrich our imagination with emotional values - by learning facts from His private sphere, e.g. His personal belongings, places connected to Him, manuscripts of His works. By recalling the personage and life of the Polish Pope, we also introduce Polish culture and customs to users worldwide. We believe that, thanks to Poles like John Paul II, we can also convey knowledge about Poland to the world. It is an important point, especially for young people.
So far the subjects of your works - photographs and albums - were famous people and distinguished authors such as Milosz, Szymborska, Kolakowski, Gorecki. What encouraged you to take up the challenge and.. 'go multimedia' with John Paul II?
Judyta Papp: The actual 'founding idea' were my pictures of John Paul II and His verses from the 'Song of the Hidden God': ‘Love explained all for me, / all was resolved by love, / Therefore I love this love / wherever it may be...' These words give strength. This is brilliantly captured in how the President of Israel Shimon Peres reflected about John Paul II: 'His heart was open to all and he became an inspiration for all.' Mr. Peres wrote these words about the Pope exclusively for the album as did other present-day authorities. This need and this art of love ought to inspire us since the attempt to accept the challenge of love is already a value of its own.
An important part of the multimedia project is the presentation of Karol Wojtyla’s works. For example, the album will contain Wojtyla's manuscript of 'A Letter to a Friend'.
Judyta Papp: Thanks to the efforts of Prelate Paweł Ptasznik's, Head of the Polish Section of the Vatican Secretariat of State, we also managed to acquire from the Vatican the Pope's unpublished manuscripts. Prelate Ptasznik took care of the selection of Wojtyla's poems which, together with my photographs taken from the movie sets of 'Karol - A Man Who Became Pope' and 'Testimony', as well as images of the Pope's personal belongings, can be found in the album. By taking pictures of John Paul II's keepsakes, like the breviary, rosary, watch, cane or 'Credo' with a bark bookmark, I didn't want to simply show objects but the aura of 'warmth' spread by this person and his belongings. These valuable items now belong to Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who willingly collaborated in our project.
An integral part of the publication consists of reflections, sometimes very personal, from people invited to the project: world authorities, leaders of nations, spiritual leaders, people of different religions.
Judyta Papp: 'For me, Pope John Paul II is the first true spiritual and religious leader on a global scale in the history of mankind,' said prof. Zbigniew Brzeziński, invited to partake in the project. This description of John Paul II makes me realize what great value He constitutes for us, Poles! Shimon Peres and Nelson Mandela prepared statements for the album. It is our wish that both Polish and international authorities, representatives of various cultures and religions, speak about the Polish Pope in this project. We have sent out many invitations. We are still waiting for replies from political and spiritual leaders of Muslim countries. That usually takes a lot of effort and time. As part of the website, we also want to publish interviews with famous and influential people. The topic of discussion will include not only the Pope's lectures but also ethics in different areas of life, e.g. business, politics, management and sport.
The project is complemented by various surveys - like the one on the knowledge about John Paul II in Asia.
Judyta Papp: One of the surveys was conducted in Malaysia, Thailand, Egypt, Australia... The interviewees answered such questions as: 'Have you ever heard of Pope John Paul II?' or 'Do you know if he is still alive or dead?', 'Where did he live/work?' or 'What was his nationality?' They were also asked if they could distinguish him amongst other leaders, among different religions and whether, according to the people in question, he was a good or a bad man. What is interesting is that most people who knew of JP2 had no religious affiliations.
This website is open to all, it invites the user to participate in its formation.
Judyta Papp: Yes, that's very important, because the website is for people. The website users, apart from access to various applications, may also share their observations and feelings regarding the content of the website, for instance by using the comments system and the forum. We present John Paul II’s poetry as messages sent out periodically - 'quotes of the day'. What makes the content of the website complete is the special Gallery where we will present amateur memento photos taken by the website users during meetings with John Paul II or other events connected with the Pope. Photographs, including those concerning the celebration of the beatification of John Paul II, may be sent to us right now.
JP2 Love already exists, but, as you emphasize, there's a lot of work ahead of you and your team.
Judyta Papp: We've been working on the album for more than a year now. The JP2 Love website is still under construction. It will be developed and updated. Its content must be continuously enriched as we really care about its quality and about promoting an active and creative approach to user participation. We're doing our best to start in October, on the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Council. Then, the website will also cover materials from the May beatification celebrations. That is also the time when the album is to be released in bookstores. We really count on help from Partners and on support from the media in the realization of this multimedia initiative that aims to introduce the discussion about the life, works and teachings of blessed John Paul II into the public communication sphere.