Opening of Where is Kovno? exhibition at SA Jewish Museum

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For more from the SA Jewish Museum download the February 2019 issue of the Chronicle.

On 5 December the SAJM’s Old Synagogue filled up with a crowd attending the opening of our current temporary exhibition Where is Kovno? Created by artists Cheryl Rumbak and Yda Walt with a soundscape by composer Philip Miller, this interactive exhibition memorialises the genocide of the Jews from the once-thriving Lithuanian city of Kaunas/Kovno.

A large percentage of the museum floor space has been utilised for this multi-media exhibition. Based on historical evidence, it includes a gallery space completely clad in the 1940 Lithuanian phone book, textile maps, suspended linocut buildings, and an audio interview with the late David Goldblatt and his wife Lily. 

The two artists spoke at the opening in moving terms about their journey back to Lithuania to research and create the installation that tells the story of the genocide of Lithuanian Jewry, and heightens awareness of continued genocides in the world today. 

The audience listened as the artists related their discovery of the sheer enormity of the population loss from towns and villages and the present-day desolation of buildings used by Jewish communities. “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.”

Where is Kovno? uses objects, textiles, linocuts, photographs, audio and movies to give viewers an interactive experience, which is extended by an invitation to write their own thoughts for display on a hanging board. The exhibition will be on display at the at the SAJM until the end of February 2018.

On Sunday 10 February at 10am there will be a walkabout of the exhibition, led by the artists. Please email events@sajewishmuseum.co.za if you would like to attend this walkabout.

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