The title of the exhibition, „Vot ken you mach?“, has been taken from a popular song by Aaron Lebedeff (1873–1960), a chorister born in Belarus who emigrated to the USA in the 1920s and quickly became a star of Jewish vaudeville.
At the time, the song written in Anglicized Yiddish gave a linguistic form to the observation that identities are in a state of flux between different descents, the past and the future, thus corresponding with our present-day notion of identity as a constellation of potentialities.
The façade of Wrocław Contemporary Museum’s seta features Stanisław Dróżdż’s Hourglass, an iconic work for Wrocław and for Polish concrete poetry. It consists of a composition of the words „was“, „is“, and „will be“, arranged in a chronological sequence. Eli Petel’s 2007 work HYHYHY (Might this thing be?) corresponds with Dróżdż’s 1968 piece. Petel used the word “היהיה” (pronunciation: ha-yihye),which contains two letters making up the root of the holy tetragrammaton “יהוה”, i.e. the first two letters of God’s Name: Yah). They can be read in different יה (He) or ה (Yod), and יה (Jah) ways, reveling new interpretations. This word is used twice in the Hebrew Bible (2 Krl 7,2 and 7,19): in the first case, it expresses doubt whether a certain event will actually happen, and in the second case – it is a quotation of the same utterance after the event has occurred. However, the eponymous word can also be read in other ways, directly or backwards – e.g. as „Hayo-haya“ (long, long time ago) or „hi hi hi“, signifying snigger.
Many of the pieces shown at the first (Dresden) and second (Wrocław) version of the „Vot ken you mach?“ exhibition refer to the complicated relations between the past and the present, and also – to the future, which seems understandable in the context of the history of Europe as such, and Poland and Germany in particular. The thematic focuses include strategies of identity shifts in pop culture, new scenes of Jewish culture in Eastern Europe, family secrets and the silence between generations, remembrance as obligation, the unwritten cultural history of Jewish revenge and the search for a ‘normal’ Jewish everyday life.
Accompanying events:
Concert by AutorYno. Event accompanying the opening of the Vot Ken You Mach? exhibition. Admission free
29.5.15 (Friday), 8 PM, MWW roof
Screening of selected films showed as part of the “Jewish Motifs” International Film Festival. Organisers: 17th SIMCHA Jewish Culture Festival and Wrocław Contemporary Museum
10 and 11.6.15 (Wednesday and Thursday), 9.30 PM, White Stork Synagogue
Presence, absence, and all that lies in between – artists in the face of Jewish history and life in Poland. Participants: Rafał Betlejewski, Patrycja Dołowy, Gabi and Uwe von Seltmanno. Moderator: Katka Reszke.
24.6.15 (Wednesday), 6 PM, Beautiful Tube
Crafting a New Judaism: Artists at the Forefront of Re-inventing Jewish Identity. Jacqueline Nicholls in conversation with Katka Reszke.
25.6.15 (Thursday), 6 PM, Beautiful Tube
White Stains – A European Impossibility. Lecture by Ami Steinitz. The lecture will be translated into Polish
27.6.15 (Saturday), 4 PM, Beautiful Tube
Israeli Art: More than One… Lecture by Raphael Zagury-Orly. The lecture will be translated into Polish
28.6.15 (Sunday), 4 PM, Beautiful Tube
Concert by Nadja and Shofar bands. Admission free – please collect free tickets.
30.7, 8 PM, White Stork Synagogue.
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, dir. Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz, France/Germany/Israel 2014.
9.8, 8.30 PM, open-air screening on Wroclaw Contemporary Museum roof.
Father and Son, dir. Paweł Łoziński, Poland 2013.
16.8, 8.30 PM, open-air screening on Wroclaw Contemporary Museum roof.
Curator’s tour. Rafał Jakubowicz will guide through the “Vot ken you mach?” exhibition.
23.8, 3 PM
Eyes Wide Open, dir. Haim Tabakman, France/Germany/Israel 2009.
23.8, 8.30 PM, open-air screening on Wroclaw Contemporary Museum roof.
Concert by Pole band.
27.8, 8 PM, open-air concert on Wroclaw Contemporary Museum roof .