Ofri Lapid, Landesarchiv Berlin, 2022

Ofri Lapid. PERFORMING BLACKOUTS.  Orchestrated reading of censored Yiddish, Hebrew and Arabic texts

Yiddishland Pavilion presents presents its last event during the 59th Venice biennale.

On November 23, 2022 artist Ofri Lapid will orchestrate an online multivocal and multilingual collective reading reanimating censored texts through the work of translation and transformations of language. The reading is provoked by different occasions in history when Yiddish theater was censored or banned by the authorities - from plays performed in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century to Yiddish theater in the early days of Israel.

The event will gather professional Yiddish performers and translators for a public reading of a collage of censored materials translated especially for the event from Hebrew and Arabic into Yiddish or English and vice versa. The selection of texts covers a variety of instances in which the Israeli government in the past, and also different theaters and publishing houses in the present impeded political criticism from being voiced through various instruments of censorship. The reading seeks to see in the Yiddish language a safe haven for the unspeakable and evoke questions regarding the apparatus of censorship and how to undermine it by means of translation. Can Yiddish voice political resistance? What kind of connections occur with the transition of contemporary heated and controversial topics to a non-national language?

An accompanying reader with translated excerpts will be available to download here starting from Monday, November, 21.

OFRI LAPID is an artist and a PhD candidate at the school of visual arts in Hamburg. Her work concerns the composition, activation and dissolution of private, scholarly and independent archives. Additionally, she develops a series of orchestrated lecture performances and readings: these combine oral narrations, field recording and objects and function both within academic conference settings and in exhibition spaces.

During the 59th Venice biennale Yiddishland Pavilion organizes offline and online events program of talks, discussions and new art works presentations.

Watch an online panel discussion The Loyal Other. Making and Breaking Jewish Identity Today where poet and writer Max Czollek, art historian Peter Chametzky and artist Haim Sokol address various cases of transformation of Jewish identities and their perceptions in Germany and Russia today in the face of societal and political changes. How does Jewish identity intersect with the larger national identity in the time of changing national ideology, and military aggression? What are the artistic strategies when it comes to integration into a bigger national narrative and what are the mechanisms of alienation from it? What are the relationship between artists, institutions and audiences within the discourse of identity politics, ‘ethnic quotas’ and policies of community engagement?

Yiddishland Pavilion is the first independent transnational pavilion at the Venice biennale bringing together artists and scholars who activate Yiddish and the diasporic Jewish discourse in contemporary artistic practice. The Pavilion’s activities — performances, discussions, presentations of new artworks, physical and digital interventions — take place in a dialogue and collaboration with national pavilions of countries with histories of Yiddish-speaking Jewish migration. Being a fluid and nomadic project that is dispersed between Venice and the virtual world, Yiddishland Pavilion represents Yiddishland ( ייִדישלאַנד or אידישלאַנד)—an imaginary country/land/space/territory and a stateless network connected through the Yiddish language and culture.

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