It is exactly 10 years since Helmut J. Psotta died largely unnoticed. Arndt Beck remembers an idiosyncratic artist who gathered important experiences of his development in Latin America, gives insights into his own work with the estate and exemplifies some backgrounds and motifs in Psotta’s work.
The exhibition is open from 6 pm — for the last time.
Arndt Beck, works as a freelance artist mainly in photography, drawing and text. As the heir of H.J. Psotta, he represents his work as if it were his own. He has also been working intensively with Yiddish for several years and is one of the initiators of yiddish.berlin.
For almost a decade, Sveta Kundish & Patrick Farrell have been developing contemporary Yiddish art song almost effortlessly. Farrell’s compositions breathe with great depth and uniquely plumb the interplay of accordion and song. Together Kundish & Farrell distill and interpret lider from the rich trove of Yiddish poetry.
A response to their recently released debut album as a duo, Nem Mayn Vort:
Kundish & Farrell are bringing an entirely new perspective to the world of Yiddish music with their fierce focus on both text and musical composition, their equal dedication to traditional and contemporary musical practice, and their rare virtuosity as performers. “Nem mayn vort” is a remarkable document of their artistry.
Sveta Kundish is a singer who performs a wide variety of Jewish music throughout Europe. She appears with Voices of Ashkenaz and Trickster Orchestra among others, and is a regular faculty member at Yiddish Summer Weimar. Born in Ukraine and later moving to Israel, Kundish holds degrees from Tel Aviv University and the Prayner Konservatorium in Vienna, and in 2017 completed a degree in Cantorial Studies from the Abraham Geiger Kolleg in Potsdam, Germany. Kundish currently works as the first female Cantor in the history of the Jewish Communities of Lower Saxony, Germany.
Patrick Farrell is an accordionist, composer and bandleader from Brooklyn, New York. An artist of “sharp wit and blistering speed” (NY Music Daily), he is at home in many different musical styles. Farrell has played as a guest with Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars and Alicia Svigals’ Klezmer Fiddle Express. He is also a composer, musical director, and accompanist for various theater and dance companies.
Yiddish is a queer language. For generations now, Yiddish-speakers have been blending their queerness with their Yiddishness, drawing on this international language’s built-in intersectionality to create theater, music, art, film, and literature that defies old taboos by including our own queer selves. As Sara Felder wrote, “Queer Yiddishkeit gives me permission to go back to the world of my grandparents without leaving myself behind.” The multimedia presentation, a whistle-stop tour through time, will start with the 1907 Berlin premiere of Sholem Asch’s play God of Vengeance, set in a Jewish-run brothel and featuring a lesbian kiss, and enjoy examples from every decade since. You can expect: cruising in 1930s Vilnius, a trans yeshiva boy, a gay bullfighter from Brooklyn, a Yiddish remix of Marlene Dietrich, a sapphic bagel baker, a Soviet Yiddish-to-Gay dictionary, queer rabbis, AIDS activism, a ritual spanking on stage, and more.
Jake Schneider is a translator, literary organizer, aspiring Yiddish poet, and proud member of Yiddish.Berlin. He organizes the local Yiddish conversation group “Shmues un Vayn” and gives tours by appointment about the history of Yiddish-speakers in Berlin’s Scheunenviertel neighborhood. jakeschneider.eu
Yiddish and Ukraine have a long and rich history of literary interconnections. In the event, we will speak about how these connections were realized in translations, both from Ukrainian into Yiddish and from Yiddish into Ukrainian. The first part will include an introductory lecture about Yiddish culture in Ukraine after the October Revolution, the translation politics in the Soviet Union, and translations between the two languages in the 1930s. In the second part, Yiddishist and translator Iryna Zrobok will speak about the Ukrainian publications of Yiddish writers in the last decades and will present her translational project.
Katerina Kuznetsova is a Berlin-based researcher of Yiddish literature and a Yiddish teacher. She has a master’s degree in Yiddish Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she was writing about the translations of Sholem Aleykhem’s works.
Iryna Zrobok, originally from Lviv, lives in Berlin since the beginning of the war. She is a translator and Yiddish literature scholar. Iryna works with the “Dukh i litera” Research and Publishing Association that published, among others, translations from Yiddish into Ukrainian and research on Yiddish Studies.
Unfortunately, the event is cancelled due to illness.
With Oleksandra Uralova (Kyiv/Berlin)
Within the literatures of Eastern Europe, Sholem Aleichem is one of the most important Jewish writers who wrote in Yiddish. Sholem Aleichem deals with the life of Jewish communities at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the relationships between Jewish and Christian neighbors, the connection between world history, politics and Jewish everyday life – and all of this is encountered in these texts against the background a Ukrainian landscape.
Born in Pereyaslav in Kyiv region, Sholem Aleichem, the master of “laughing through tears”, has visited many places that can be found on the contemporary map of Ukraine. And so our sarcastic author describes in his works the Ukrainian villages and towns parallel to the shtetln, where in the time of the Russian Empire the Jewish population had to live in the so-called Pale of Settlement.
Oleksandra Uralova is a researcher, writer and Yiddish teacher from Kyiv, who also works in the field of literary translation from Yiddish into Ukrainian. In 2019 she received the Feller Kovba Prize of the Ukrainian Association for Jewish Studies for her translation of Sholem Aleichem’s “Tevye, the Milkman”, and in the spring of 2022 her translations of Avrom Sutzkever’s “From the Vilna Ghetto” and “Green Aquarium” were awarded awarded the Sholem-Aleichem State Prize.
From H.J. Psotta’s 85th birthday to the 10th anniversary of his death, moving poets berlin/NOVILLA are exhibiting images from seven decades and releasing Psotta from oblivion. The focus is on his _rosa paraphrases, a cycle that began as part of the collage series Pornography in 1978–79, when Psotta first reproduced a childhood photograph of his mother Rosa. His engagement with this photograph continued in various guises, culminating in his Peruvian drawing cycles from his time with Grupo Chaclacayo (1982-88), where he linked the image of the mother with that of Saint Rosa of Lima, stylizing it into a universal symbol of suffering. This preoccupation lasted almost a decade and this last act alone encompasses more than 100 A3-sized sheets… We are displaying some of them.
Other aspects are offered by the cycle Ode tsu der toyb. In early 2022, Arndt Beck once again took up a theme from the Yiddish poet Avrom Sutzkever by interweaving the photograph of Martha, the very last North American passenger pigeon who died in captivity in 1914, with Sutzkever’s book-length poem. This ode is complemented by Psotta’s earlier works and photographs by Beck, all of which thematically play with the symbol of the pigeon.
In Psotta, we find an artist who added something unique to his time, who waves at us from the beyond with a smile, full of unspent beauty, because he preferred to fly under the radar.
Opening: November 9, 7 pm Music: Zhenja Oks
NOVILLA Hasselwerder Str. 22 12439 Berlin-Schöneweide
Opening hours: Wed 6-9 pm | Sat 4-7 pm | Sun 2-5 pm
at all events and by appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org | +49 177 3154530
Not on 24/25 December
Further events in cooperation with yiddish.berlin:
Yiddish.Berlin is thrilled. After years of hard work, three gutsy, talented voices from our own circle are ready to present their own original Yiddish poetry. Be there when Jake Schneider, Katerina Kuznetsova, and Jordan Lee Schnee share their creations with the public for the first time. With an introduction by Arndt Beck.
After the closing of our successful exhibition Mageyfe | Milkhome | Mame-Loshn in June, we’ve taken a short break from organizing events to enjoy a busy summer of other Yiddish activities. The one exception is our twice-monthly conversation group (shmueskrayz) “Shmues un Vayn,” which will be meeting next on the 4th and 16th of August. If you are in town and would like to join us, please email us for the locations and to join the shmueskrayz mailing list. Recent guests to the shmueskrayz have included Karo Wegner from Poland, Reb Noyekh Barrera from California, and Prof. Sara Feldman of Harvard University.
On the somber 70th anniversary of the Night of the Murdered Soviet Yiddish Poets, we will not be hosting our own commemoration as we have the past four years. However, we will of course be individually involved in at least two of the many events to mark this sad occasion organized by other groups and institutions. We encourage you to join us at the symposium and reading at the Jewish Museum Berlin on 14 August as part of the Yiddish in Berlin summer program, or the night of remembrance on 12 August in Weimar, as part of Yiddish Summer Weimar.
Meanwhile, members of Yiddish.Berlin have recently been involved in:
An ELES Seminar in Rheinsberg about Yiddish run by four of us (Jordan Lee Schnee, Anna Rozenfeld, Irad Ben Isaak, and Katerina Kuznetsova) and featuring a performance by Daniel Kahn
The conference “The Avant-Garde in Yiddish Culture: The 100th Anniversary of Khalyastre” at Bar-Ilan University, including a presentation by Irad Ben Isaak
Generation J, a Yiddish-themed summer camp for young adults in Weimar
The first ever UK Yiddish Sof-Vokh: 48 hours of nonstop Yiddish in Yorkshire, including a Yiddish poetry writing workshop with Jake Schneider
Shtetl Berlin’s latest jam-packed “kleznick” (Klezmer picnic) by the Landwehr canal (photo below)
Some of us will also be taking part in the comprehensive Yiddish in Berlin summer program organized by the Paris Yiddish Center – Medem Library in partnership with the FU’s Institute for East European Studies , which begins next week and is partnering with us for our second August shmueskrayz gathering.
We will be announcing more events of our own soon, and meanwhile we hope to see you af der yidisher gas!
Our Yiddish conversation group, or shmueskrayz, was launched at the beginning of the year and has been meeting once or twice a month ever since at bars and members’ private apartments. Our gatherings are casual and unstructured, and our conversations follow their own natural flow. The only rule is that we speak Yiddish the entire time. Interested Yiddish speakers of any level are always invited to get in touch with us and we will let you know the upcoming dates.
During the exhibition Plague | War | Mother Tongue, we are opening the group’s seventh meeting to the public. Anyone who speaks Yiddish (or has learned in the classroom and would like to try chatting out in the world) is welcome to show up spontaneously – no RSVP needed – and join our conversation.
Today, we find it especially important to raise awareness of Ukrainian culture, literature, and language. We are Yiddishists, and our contribution to this cause is speaking about Yiddish and Ukrainian connections, mutual influences, and literary and cultural intertwinings.
As languages, Yiddish and Ukrainian have much in common. They both still suffer from neglect and stereotypes, often being dismissed as “not proper languages” but rather dialects of the dominating German and Russian. The attitude towards the languages reflects cultural and political oppression.
In the event, we will give voice to Yiddish and Ukrainian poets of the 19th and 20th centuries by reading their works in original and translation. The first part focuses on the Ukrainian classics: Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Franko, and Lesya Ukrainka. In the 1930s, Dovid Hofshteyn, a Yiddish modernist poet born in Ukraine, translated their works into Yiddish. This project was more than just a translation. Hofshteyn found a way to express his own ideas on national identity and alienation through the works of Ukrainian poets.
The second part of the event includes works by Leyb Kvitko translated by the famous Ukrainian poet Pavlo Tychyna, as well as Yiddish modernist poetry by women such as Dvoyre Fogel. Our special guest, Ukrainian Yiddishist Iryna Zrobok , a Lviv-born translator from Yiddish and German into Ukrainian, will present her project about Yiddish female writers.
Katerina Kuznetsova, Sofya Chernykh, Dina Gidon, August Kahn, Alina Klimanska, Boris Shavlov, Jake Schneider, Iryna Zadnipriana, Iryna Zrobok