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 z z 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: י (Yod), and ה (He) or יה (Yah). They can be read in different 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.
Artists: Paweł Althamer (Warsaw), Łukasz Baksik (Warsaw), Yael Bartana (Amsterdam / Berlin / Tel Aviv), Stanisław Dróżdż (died in 2009 in Wrocław), Amit Epstein (Berlin), Inga Fonar-Cocos (Tel Aviv), Yael Frank (Tel Aviv), Karolina Freino (Wrocław), Eduard Freudmann (Vienna), Rafał Jakubowicz (Poznań), Sharone Lifschitz (London), Haim Maor (Beersheba), Dawid Marszewski (Poznań), Michaela Melián (Hamburg), Tamara Moyzes (Prague), Eran Nave (Tel Aviv), Damir Nikšić (Sarajevo), Ruth Novaczek (London), Eli Petel (Jerusalem), Krystyna Piotrowska (Warsaw), Nikola Radić-Lucati (Belgrade / Tel Aviv), Joanna Rajkowska (Nowogrodzie / London), Barak Reiser (Frankfurt am Mein), Ofra Riesenfeld (Poznań / Tel Aviv), Eran Schaerf (Berlin), Anna Schapiro (Dresden), Maya Schweizer (Berlin / Rome), Tehnica Schweiz (Gergely László & Péter Rákosi) (Berlin / Budapest), Tal Sterngast (Berlin), Yael Vishnizki-Levi (Warsaw), Shira Wachsmann (Berlin), Arye Wachsmuth (Vienna), Claire Waffel (Berlin), Shlomi Yaffe (Prague), Amir Yatziv (Berlin / Tel Aviv), Artur Żmijewski (Warsaw)