Thinking Back – Looking Ahead by Daniel Laufer

Photo Credit: Gergely Laszlo, The Blue Room

Asylum alum, Daniel Laufer, shares some thoughts on the show he’s curating, which will be exhibited at BOX Freiraum in Berlin on Wednesday, April 3 at 7pm and will be showing through June 29. The exhibition features works by alumni Gergely Laszlo, Ofri Lapid & Ben Osborn, Atalya Laufer, Benyamin Reich, Ariel Reichman, Alona Rodeh, Anna Schapiro, as well as Tehnica Schweiz (Gergely Laszlo & Peter Rakosi), Keren Cytter, Evgenia Gostrer, Olga Grigorjewa, Leon Kahane and Sonia Knop. We are proud to be supporting this exhibition with Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk ELES.

We all know it and are somehow fed up with it, but we cannot help but also be interested in it. The fact that Jews live in Germany today is a given. Similarly, we are all aware of the ongoing discussions about what is Jewish art. Although this conversation has been endlessly worked on and talked about, there is still so much more to be explored. It is still fascinating to examine Jewish Art in Germany, but to whom is it appealing? And why?Without being too polemic or political, Jewish artists look to define themselves beyond the Jewish frames that they are often perceived as, regardless of what they do in their works.

In a new show, initiated by ELES and supported also by Asylum Arts, 12 contemporary positions are presented. Despite the multitude of backgrounds and practices, the artists in the show share one biographical detail: all have lived in Germany, and most of them still do. Yet, the core of the exhibition is of another aspect – divergence.

In Germany, where Jews intimately know the struggle for discrete self-representation between stereotypes of supposedly positive clichés and historical victimhood, an art practice often has to engage with being too narrowly defined on the one hand and denied a “normal” Jewish identity on the other.

This show is loosely dedicated to the typical titular aspects of such shows that reflect on Jewish identity – biography, religion, memory and remembrance. The works deal with the meaning of national symbols and examine private and collective identities. Some questions that are raised include: Can one look at and describe their own life and family as a stranger? What happens to memories when one leaves the place that they were formed? How many memories fit into a life of 90 years? What memories would a 101-year-old share and how? Is the biblical symbol of Israel, the grapevine, still relevant? How can fragmented family memories that have been conveyed over decades be depicted? How can the hidden life of the Haredic world be represented, in particular, to the silent voices of orthodox and ultra-orthodox women and non-heteronormative individuals? What would the ten commandments look like today? What are the differences and similarities between Jewish, Christian and non-religious principles of faith? Does the color scheme of German and Polish trains describe the colors of their environment? And can they be looked at without their historical connotation? Can dealing with the memory politics of Kádárera state socialism be a healing process?

As the curator of the show, my main question is whether such a show can survive being pigeonholed and can simply be a fascinating group show of contemporary art, regardless of the stipulating common Jewish denominator.

Alona Rodeh, Ten Commandments
Atalya Laufer, Eine Coole Socke – Das Hinterlassen

Click here for more information on the event.

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