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.
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: email@example.com | +49 177 3154530
Not on 24/25 December
Further events in cooperation with yiddish.berlin:
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.
In response to the war in Ukraine, which has deeply shaken us all, we adjusted the focus of our event on International Women’s Day. Many of the Yiddish poets we presented were born or lived in Ukraine. We spoke about their experiences with war, invasion, and displacement and emphasized their connections to Ukraine. We, YIDDISH Berlin, are unanimous in our support for all people living in Ukraine and used this event as an opportunity to raise awareness of Ukraine’s history and culture.
At the event, we also collected donations, which we used to acquire medications for people in need in Ukraine.
The program included recitations of poems and musical renditions of work by the following authors, all of them women:
Marina Alexeeva | Rivka Basman Ben-Hayim | Celia Dropkin | Irena Klepfisz | Rokhl H. Korn | Anna Margolin | Kadia Molodowsky | Miriam Ulinover | Debora Vogel
The participants included:
Arndt Beck | Patrick Farrell | Hilde Haberland | Sveta Kundish | KaterinaKuznetsova | Anna Rozenfeld | Jordan Lee Schnee | Jake Schneider | Maria Stazherova
On 31 October 2021 at 3 pm, YIDDISH BERLIN held a reading to remember two important Yiddish poets. On 29 October 1937, Meyshe Kulbak and Izi Kharik were summarily executed. They were among the first Yiddish writers to fall victim to Stalinist purges.
Kulbak and Kharik were both born in Belarus – Raysn in Yiddish – where they spent much of their lives and where they were also murdered. The notion of home and finding home, as well as the tensions between the shtetl and the big city, were central themes for both poets.
Although their lives and their literature moved in rather different directions, they share many commonalities beyond the dark day of their death.
YIDDISH BERLIN read prose and poetry by Kulbak and Kharik (in Yiddish) as well as stories about the poets’ lives (in English).
Our event paid tribute to their immense literary legacy while celebrating living Yiddish culture.
In 1941 the Nazis arrived in the Lithuanian capital. They set about murdering Jewish people and destroying the rich cultural heritage of the city: its many Jewish libraries. A handful of Jewish intellectuals in the Vilnius ghetto bravely resisted by trying to save this heritage. They were called the Paper Brigade. Among them: Avrom Sutzkever.
On the basis of unseen archival material, interviews with protagonist and their descendents as well as historians, this documentary shines a light on an important chapter of spiritual resistance.
Director: Diane Perelsztejn, Belgium, France 2018, 60 min.