Category Archives: Events

‘Seed to Harvest’ Sukkot performance

Thanks to the continuing support of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, I have been able to organise a Sukkot meal and live performance event in Dublin on October 16, 2016. The Quartet (Olesya Zdorovetska – voice, Nick Roth – saxophones, Olie Brice – double bass, Matthew Jacobson – percussion) performed Seeds II, a study of plant genetics composed by Nick Roth, followed by a free improvisation. The visuals for the performance were created from the material I collected in Lviv and the Carpathians during my recent research trip funded by the Asylum Arts (US) and a-n Travel Bursary (UK).

The Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays of the year to one of the most joyous. Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to as Z’man Simchateinu (זְמַן שִׂמְחָתֵנוּ), the Season of Rejoicing.

The origins of Sukkot are both historical and agricultural. Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert, living in temporary shelters. Agriculturally, Sukkot celebrates the gathering of the harvest.

Sukkot foods are all about the autumn harvest – apples, pears, sweet potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables that are readily available this time of year. On each day of the holiday it is mandatory to perform a waving ceremony with the Four Species: fronds from the myrtle, date, willow trees, along with a yellow etrog (the citron fruit).

Happiness doubles when you share it. Joined by people from Australia, England, Finland, Iran, Ireland, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine we had a memorable evening full of music, visuals, food, conversations and singing.

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Ukraine..August 24

Today is August 24 and Ukraine celebrates 25th anniversary of Independence Day. On a personal note, my grandfather was born on this day 98 years ago, in 1918. Interestingly, The Ukrainian People’s Republic, a predecessor of modern Ukraine, proclaimed its independence on 25 January 1918 (simple maths means he was a 2months baby in the womb then). His grandparents were from Kherson and so was his mother and uncles. Though my granddad was born in Crimea. His mother, cousin and uncle were tragically killed, by Nazis in Crimea and by Soviets in Moscow. I will never tire of repeating my graddad’s words – Holocaust is a genocide against everyone (Холокост это геноцид против всех).

Having just spent 5 weeks in Ukraine with most wonderful people, I would like to thank all those on the pictures below and those whom I was too shy to photograph. There was no single time that my Moscow Russian dialect (accent) made anyone frown. Everyone was so patient with my misunderstandings (or often complete lack of understanding) of beautiful Ukrainian language. And so many people helped me and Olesya in our research of Debora Vogel. I will be back in Lviv in a couple of weeks and today I will go to the Armenian cemetery in Moscow where half of my Jewish family is buried. Those, who once lived in Mariupol, Simferopol, Dnepropetrovsk, Kyiv and ended up in Moscow. And I’m so grateful to be able to be here today with my dad.

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Betya Rechister and Boris Dorfman

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Alexandra Somish

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Jason Francisco

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Olga Pogribna-Kokh

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Jurko Kokh

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Pani Stefa

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Taras Beniakh

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Dana Pinczewska

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Danylo Pertsov

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Olga Kupchinskaya

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Jurko Prohasko

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in Burshtyn

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Olga Sukha and Olesya Zdorovetska

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Justik

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Edward Pastukh

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Alexandra Scherbakova

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Irina Garasinyak

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Alina Datsko

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Obsolete & Discontinued

This post is about my involvement in the Obsolete & Discontinued project driven every step of the way by Mike Crawford, London based photographer and expert printer. O&D has just had its first exhibition in the former textile plant warehouse Can Manyer at the Releva-T analogue photography festival in Vilassar de Dalt, Spain.

I met Mike Crawford a few years ago at PhotoChats darkroom where I have been involved in the archival project about the history of Chats Palace and the community arts in East London. Last year I was fixing the darkroom in the basement of what used be the Nevill Arms pub in Stoke Newington, and asked Mike to pop over. That chilly day in March I discovered a few packets of old photographic paper and was printing some tests.

And here comes Mike saying he has been been given boxes of expired paper (at least 20 or 30 years old) by a client from his late uncle’s darkroom. Mike shows me his first test prints to investigate the condition of the paper – some are in fine condition, others have heavy fog. The latter turn out to be amenable to lith developer – something that I later try with the foggy paper I found at the Nevill.

Mike says that he is currently having discussions with the London Alternative Photography Collective to share out the paper amongst the members. After seeing these results and putting together a comprehensive proposal, Mike unveils the idea at the LAPC meeting to give out batches of paper to photographic artists with an open brief to produce any type of work they wish. The idea is immediately appealing and many sign up to participate in the project, myself included. The rest is history!

My Crimea
In Autumn 2010 I am visiting a friend in Crimea. I go for long walks in the mountains overlooking the sea. Here and then I photograph and think about my grandfather who was born and grew up near by. What was it like? I know so little about his early years and so my imagination fills the void.

A few years later I am sitting in my uncle’s house going through the family archives. I find postcards sent by my great-grandmother in Summer 1941. In the last one she writes about not wanting to leave her home and part with the piano. I also find a letter from which I learn that in 1940 during his summer break from uni my grandfather came to visit his mother together with his then girl-friend (who then became his wife and my grandmother). It was the last time he saw his mother who was tragically killed a year later when Crimea was occupied. It is the first time that I hear that my great-grandmother was a piano teacher and that she was murdered. From what I know my grandfather never talked about his past with his sons. I ask my dad – he thinks that for my grandfather there was life ‘before’ and life ‘after’.

Mike mentions Kodak Bromide Grade 2 is possibly of military issue and so I decide to print the Crimea photograph taken in 2010 at the time when I did not know about my family past nor what was to come between Russia and Ukraine.

Obsolete and discontinued_Asya Gefter

Filmmaking and Hackney

Open Cinema festival

I am contributing  a video piece for the 24h Hackney film as well as the Hackney archive showreel to the Open Cinema film festival on Saturday November 21 at Open School East, 43 De Beauvoir Rd, N1 5SQ. Do come along if free and up for some quirky, serious, funny, contemporary and historical footage about Hackney.
Read more here
Update (December 2): You are welcome to watch some of the footage on my ‘Film’ page. More films will be available soon on the Open School East website!

London Radical Book Fair

The London Radical Bookfair 2015 in their second year running championed radical publishing – from its independent bookshops and publishers to its DIY-ers; the small press, self-publishers, and zinesters.

The LRB took over Bishopsgate Institute last year as the first event of its kind to bring together UK’s radical publishing and self-publishing communities. It was a joy and a privilege to be asked by Nik Górecki from Housmans Bookshop to document the fair once again, this time in a renovated Victorian warehouse at 47/49 Tanner Street near Tower Bridge.

 

Tales from the Ditch

Alan Gilbey, curator/guide, BAFTA Award-winning writer and East End guru:
‘Tales From The Ditch’ is an anthology of tales less told from London’s ‘little bit of rough’, as narrated by an eclectic selection of local authors, historians, storytellers and musicians, who were hidden in all the nooks and crannies of the basement of Shoreditch Town Hall. Each of these performances is a miniature, lasting five minutes, before bells are rung and you have to move on to find the next one. It’s a bit like speed dating, except you don’t have an awkward bit at the end where London history tries to get your phone number.

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Dan Jones has painted East End scenes for four decades; writer, youth worker and human rights campaigner.

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‘Oh Mr Wu..’ In an opium den Stefan Dickers sang of the scarcity of opium dens in the real Chinese Limehouse.

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In a secret room Keith Jones tells the classified story of Tommy Flowers, the Poplar telephone engineer who played a major part in cracking the Enigma Code and ending WW2.

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Chris Lilly and Tim Smith in the musical melodrama about ‘A Child Of The Jago.’

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Tim Smith in the musical melodrama about ‘A Child Of The Jago.’

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In a dark, damp cellar Debbie Scott tells the story of her great grandfather, who saved a great many men from drowning in the docks but was never honoured for his courage.

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In a dark, damp cellar Debbie Scott tells the story of her great grandfather, who saved a great many men from drowning in the docks but was never honoured for his courage.

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In the clinic of Anna Stokes you could receive sun lamp treatment and hear of Shoreditch Councils progressive health policies in the nineteen twenties. 'More power! More light!'

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© Asya Gefter

There was a pub and a bit of a sing-song. An opium den clouded with myth. A musical melodrama about ‘A Child Of The Jago.’ A clinic where you could feel the health giving powers of electricity and sunlight.

Who created the Ditch? Perhaps Shoreditch Council just sheered the tops off a lot of Victorian houses and dumped an Edwardian Town Hall on top?  With its winding corridors and sudden dead ends, secret staircases and non-sequiter windows, it is the perfect geophysical venue for a myth defying night of Eastside stories.

All together…

‘It’s the rich wot get the pleasure and the poor wot get the rich.
All of us are lying in the gutter, but some of us are dreaming of The Ditch.’

One Sunday Over The Lea

In collaboration with Brian Walker and Peter Young, I submitted this short piece to the My London Film competition, held by the East End Film Festival in partnership with Time Out London and YouTube.

Yesterday we got the news that the film made the competition’s official TOP 15 list and will be screened  this Saturday afternoon at 1.30pm as part of a special programme at One Stop Film Shop, being held in partnership with Little White Lies in Old Street Station.

Hope to see you there for screenings of Top 15 short films about London!

May Day Clerkenwell

Rowan Arts have asked me to photograph the annual May Day gathering on Camberwell Green for their Clerkenwell History project. The Muscovite in me had mixed feelings on the day when a display of Soviet-era-like ceremony took place on Red Square, for the first time since 1991. But Britain is Britain, and here are the many beautiful faces of Londoners.


© Asya Gefter