Where is Kovno? created by artists Cheryl Rumbak and Yda Walt with a soundscape by composer Philip Miller, opens at South African Jewish Museum on 5 October.
This interactive exhibition functions as both a memorial to the genocide of Jews in the once-thriving Lithuanian city of Kaunas (which was known as Kovno to its Yiddish speaking Jewish inhabitants) and a response to the continuing xenophobia and genocides that presently occur around the world. In one part of the installation, viewers will be able to add their own memories and ideas about issues raised in the exhibition.
Art confronts xenophobia by inviting viewers to share their thoughts.
A large percentage of the museum floor space has been utilised for this exhibition. This multi-faceted exhibition of photographs, textiles, immersive sound-scape’s and multi-media is displayed throughout the museum.
Journey back to Kovno/Kaunas, Lithuania
The artists’ journey back to Kovno/Kaunas began with the discovery of the city’s pre-Second World War telephone book, which was double the size of its post-war book.
Lithuanian Jews, also known as Litvaks, had lived beside their neighbours for hundreds of years. During the Second World War almost the whole community was murdered and buried in over 200 mass killing sites scattered across the country. Entire families were permanently erased from Kovno’s subsequent telephone book, a shocking visual reminder of the enormous number of lives that were lost from a single city.
Walt and Rumbak grew up in apartheid South Africa, part of a tightly knit Jewish community of Litvak descent.
In their words, “We visited our grandparents, ate their food and heard them converse in the secret language of Yiddish. There was a shadow, a sadness and a silence that covered an unspoken trauma.
“What happened in Lithuania can and does happen anywhere. We constantly need to challenge antisemitism, racism and xenophobia wherever they occur, and not allow these forces to strip away our intrinsic humanity.”
‘What is not acknowledged cannot be healed’ Waldemar Ginsburg, … and Kovno wept
Where is Kovno? was exhibited at the Kaunas Textile Art Bienale (Lithuania) in 2009 and at the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre in 2017.
WHERE: South African Jewish Museum, 88 Hatfield St, Cape Town 8001
WHEN: opening on Wednesday, 5 December at 6pm. Closes end February 2019
Artist led exhibition tours: • Thursday, 6 December at 10am • Sunday, 9 December at 10am.
Please RSVP here attend any of the above events.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the new 2019 Arts + Crafts Map, to help you decide WHAT to see, WHY it’s special and WHERE to find it.