juvenilia > History

This was a video installation done in the fall of 2004 and shown at the Bronfman Center, New York, in a show called “The Ties That Bind: Three Portraits of Jewish Identity.”

The video is a “home movie” of my grandmother and my aunt relating my grandmother’s Holocaust survival story. There is little editing and the stories are told in real time, allowing all of the contradictions and subjectivities, the slow and sometimes jumbled nuances, to surface. Though my grandmother is speaking in broken English, she often slips into Ladino (the Sephardic Jewish dialect of Spanish) or French or Italian. The video is therefore subtitled, unless my aunt has clarified or translated.

For the installation, I recreated my grandmother’s kitchen, the same kitchen they are sitting in in the video. I also cooked bourekas (a traditional Greek Jewish recipe, phyllo dough pockets of spinach and feta cheese) and served them to the audience as they watched the video. My intention was to recreate the environment in which I receive this oral history. I wanted the viewer to feel as though they are a part of the experience, sitting at the table with my family.

This project is a celebration of the story and the storyteller. It is a documentation, acceptance, and embrace of the only things I know of my history, of the family “legends” that will be passed down through generations.