In the frame of Vot ken you mach, Jonas Engelmann, a freelance writer and comics specialist in Wiesbaden, has compiled an exhibition titled Wurzellose Kosmopoliten. Comics zu jüdischen Identitäten in Europa, USA und Israel (Rootless Cosmopolitans. Comics on Jewish Identities in Europe, the United States and Israel) on view from January 22 in the foyer of Kunsthaus Dresden .
The lounge contains thirty volumes of various authors from Europe, the United States and Israel and was designed in collaboration with WILDSMILE Studios Dresden.
The comic legend Will Eisner once remarked in a speech that he became a cartoonist because Jewish immigrants in America in the first decades of the 20th century had only few possibilities to work in other artistic fields.
And indeed, like hardly any other medium, comics in America were strongly shaped from the very start by Jewish immigrants who had settled on the East Coast. Already in the comics of early artists such as Milt Gross, one can find reflections on the immigrant situation of the Jewish population and their attempt to integrate themselves in American society.
Aspects of this early connection between Jewish identity in the New World and the medium of comics can also be found today. The comics exhibition Wurzellose Kosmopoliten. Comics zu jüdischen Identitäten in Europa, USA und Israel (Rootless Cosmopolitans. Comics on Jewish Identities in Europe, the United States and Israel) curated by Jonas Engelmann shows this relationship based on works dealing with Jewish (migration) traces in America: Graphic novels by artists such as Leela Corman, James Sturm or Will Eisner visualize Jewish life torn between memories of the Eastern European shtetl and the reality of the New World. Especially the works of Will Eisner set in New York highlight the living conditions of migrants in the first half of the 20th century from a Jewish perspective. A few decades later, Ben Katchor, in The Jew of New York, portrays a fictive Jewish New York in the 19th century.
Characters and themes of Jewish cultural history have also experienced a renaissance in comics in the past twenty years, a reference to Jewish traditions in the shadow of Auschwitz. A second focus of the exhibition is on Jewish life in Europe prior to 1933. Be it Jewish mysticism in Dino Battaglia’s Golem, Jewish cultural history in David Zane Mairowitz’ and Robert Crumb’s Kafka or everyday life in Eastern Europe in James Sturm’s Markttag and Sammy Harkham’s Everything Together: The view to the past before the Shoah has increasingly become a theme in comics over the past years.