At the Venice Biennale, a Border-Defying Yiddishland Pavilion

ByMary E. Alvarez

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VENICE, Italy — Curated by Maria Veits and Yevgeniy Fiks, the Yiddishland Pavilion at the Venice Biennale does not established out to imitate or represent a discrete physical territory. Fairly, the challenge encapsulates an plan, or as the curators have mentioned, “a linguistic and cultural space” shared among Yiddish-speaking communities that have been dispersed and reconstituted close to the globe.

Individuals wanting to discover Yiddishland as a physical exhibition web-site in Venice will thus be let down. Alternatively, Yiddishland at the Venice Biennale is a porous and generative job that threads itself through various pavilions, whilst subtly undermining the countrywide logic of the biennale. Yiddishland can be located in substitute platforms consisting of each virtual jobs and momentary performances and occasions, which run as unauthorized artistic interventions amid the biennale’s traditional brick-and-mortar national pavilions. For those people not able to travel to Venice, the Yiddishland Pavilion’s internet site offers finish digital activities and documentation, a surprising and welcome rarity inside the publish-Covid biennale landscape.

Yiddishland Pavilion homepage (courtesy the Yiddishland Pavilion)

In an write-up for Hyperallergic in 2020, Fiks described a new revival of secular Yiddish lifestyle by the generations that grew up in the aftermath of Entire world War II and the Holocaust it is these postwar generations, according to Fiks who “(re)acquired the Yiddish language and employed it for cultural production” as a signifies of embracing cultural roots that had been severed. 

Several of Yiddishland’s interventions seek to get better marginalized or wrecked Jewish pasts. Hagar Cygler’s collected pictures convey collectively own narrative and nationwide heritage as they intersect by her family’s previous apartment constructing in Lodz, Poland, though Zsuzsi Flohr’s video clip On the Floor, the Prospects explores the intersections of Jewish and Roma society and background related the Shoah and the Pharrajimos. 

Fiks’ very own task for the Yiddishland Pavilion, Yonia Fain’s Map of Refugee Modernism, reveals the intriguing and small-recognized biography of the visual artist Yona Fein. The audio tour spreads throughout the pavilions of the a lot of nation-states in which Fein lived (explored in aspect two of the Yiddishland Pavilion review).

Other artists strive to uncover the tales of underrepresented teams inside of Yiddish-talking communities. Shterna Goldbloom’s series Feygele will take the Torah scroll as a substrate to inform the stories of LGBTQI+ Jews. Though they have beforehand made use of handmade Torah scrolls to make physical objects, for the Yiddishland Pavilion, Goldbloom’s undertaking nearly unscrolls to reveal photographs and interviews. 

Shterna Goldbloom, Feygele (2022) (courtesy the artist/Yiddishland Pavilion)

Deriving from the Yiddish slur for gay as nicely as a phrase meaning tiny fowl, Feygele tells the stories of 35 folks who are forging new paths among their conventional upbringing and their sexual and gender identities.

Structure and type of the created phrase are equally central to Ella Ponizovsky Bergelson’s contribution. At the German Pavilion, website visitors can scan a QR code to check out an augmented actuality work by the Moscow-born, Jerusalem-elevated, and Berlin-primarily based artist, made in collaboration with Anna Elena Torres. 

What at initial glance appears to be like a rotating mass of molten iron quickly gets distinguishable as groupings of letters derived from three writing systems — Yiddish, English, and an ancient proto-Canaanite alphabet. 

Influenced by the literary critic and anarchist Boruch Rivkin who coined the phrase Yiddishland, Bergelson’s do the job, titled Pseudo-territory, faucets into language’s mutability and innovative ability to disrupt boundaries and borders. This Yiddishland intervention pairs especially effectively with the official commission for the German Pavilion, in which Maria Eichhorn bodily subverted and displaced the German national presence, both by stripping back the constructing to its foundations and simultaneously arranging a collection of off-site events commemorating the history of anti-fascist things to do in Venice throughout Globe War II. 

Other initiatives grapple with urgent political realities, including Schandwache, a group that fashioned to protest and shield dialogue all-around the defacement and possible elimination of an Austrian monument to Karl Lueger, the mayor of Vienna from 1897 to 1910 whose antisemitic views and insurance policies portended the increase of Adolf Hitler. Documentation of their intervention — physically marking the monument as SCHANDE (shame) and trying to keep vigil towards the graffiti’s removal by ideal-wing factions — can be seen on line. 

The Yiddishland Pavilion curators have also arranged a broad selection of 1-off packages and performances using spot each just about and on the biennale fairgrounds. 1 these efficiency, Jenny Romaine’s Vu Bistu Geven? (Exactly where have you been?) took place on line on May perhaps 26. Doing work with Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) collaborators, Romaine and her staff delved into Jewish and Kanien’kehá:ka storytelling strategies as a signifies to assume about land and land use and investigate the partnership in between Yiddish-speaking Jewish communities in Montreal and the legacies of settler colonialism. An abridged version of the two-year job, Romaine’s lecture-efficiency, together with clips from the project’s former iterations, is now readily available on the web. 

Like quite a few of the assignments incorporated in the Yiddishland Pavilion, Vu Bistu Geven? does not investigate Yiddish heritage and lifestyle in isolation, but as a substitute opens a dialogue to knowing how Yiddish culture has and proceeds to relate to the numerous places in which it resides.

Yiddishland Pavilion activities and tasks carry on around the program of the 59th Venice Biennale, which include a video performance by Uladzimir Hramovich analyzing the tales of groundbreaking Hirsch Leckert and sculptor Abram Brazier, and Ofri Lapid’s the “Shund” on line reading through session, concentrating on early 20th-century Yiddish theater performs in Berlin. The pavilion was curated by Maria Veits and Yevgeniy Fiks.


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