Two weeks ago we invited artist Julia Vogl to take over our Instagram account and guide us through behind the scenes of her project about freedom, which took her all the way to Greece. We now asked her to write about it:
In August 2016, the Jewish Arts Collaborative approached me about making an accessible engaging artwork themed around passover- but more specifically freedom. They wanted the work to be inclusive, city wide in Boston, and share some of the Jewish narrative. In my mind Passover Seder is already the perfect installation artwork. Still the word Freedom was evocative to the news I had been submerged in- and I began to see with great clarity an incredible opportunity. For me the Exodus is the ultimate Refugee experience. A group of oppressed people, leave their homeland, cross a body of water, end up in the middle of nowhere in tents for 40 years as they try and encourage the next generation to belong somewhere while holding on to their customs. I thought if I could actually experience some of that- and bring that narrative to the fore of a large public art work in Boston- maybe I could try and and achieve what the Jewish Arts Collaborative was setting as a challenge.
Vogl in Greece, 2016.
How was I going to experience that? Of course go to where the refugees are. And so I told JARTS, I need to do some research to put together a proper proposal. With the help of Asylum arts I got a travel and research grant and voyaged to Lesbos Greece to see what it was like for refugees landing in Europe. (See my instagram I also did a Grand Slam Moth story about this- but not on the airwaves.)
I then began to think about how to bring that to be an accessible relatable experience to people in Boston. I voyaged to Boston to meet the different groups there, government officials, jews, artists, jewish artists! This has begun the real process. In the middle of it now I am busy working with J ARTS finding a public site, creating workshops, investigating materials, and talking to people of all different walks of life about their relationship to the concept of freedom.
Her grandparents were all refugees in Europe after WWII.
IN April 2018- over Pesach- I hope to unveil a publicly engaging, visually compelling experience for the people of Boston that expresses stories collected. I hope it will provokes new conversations about being a refugee, about being enslaved, being free, and what we have to do to protect those freedoms in Boston, the USA, the world today. Freedom is not just a responsibility for Jews but for all- and thats why the work aims to use the narrative and visual symbolism- to share the tradition while creating a new experience. I feel very driven and supported- and motivated that this is not only a fun project but an important one.
Perhaps a tall order – but stay tuned!
Follow the process on the Jewish Arts Collaborative Blog- http://www.jartsboston.org/latest-news/ (Have 4 posts already!) And Instagram #Refugeestory2017