Fragments of Memory

FRAGMENTS OF MEMORY is a response to Debora Vogel and her hometown of Lviv, a microcosm of Europe’s turbulent 20th century. Over the past two years, Asya Gefter and Olesya Zdorovetska had been on a journey to discover Debora Vogel, an overlooked intellectual, writer, art critic, the Gertrude Stein of inter-war Lviv. They walked the places Vogel inhabited, exhibited and wrote about. They met people who survived the war and went on living, or were born long after and reconnected with the vanished world. They encountered the story of the former Lviv Jewish museum, a derelict building presently at risk. The work that resulted from this voyage is concerned with the presence and absence of people, with a discontinuous perception of poetic and physical spaces, with personal stories pointing to Lemberg/Lwow/Lviv for present and future generations.

Asya Gefter & Olesya Zdorovetska, authors of ‘Fragments of Memory’ at the Lviv Museum of Ideas, September 2017 (photo by Yakov Lobkov)

Vogel’s experimental poetry, all written in the 1920s-30s, was, in the spirit of early 20th century European literature, radically avant-garde and attuned to all the modernist minimalisms. Being skilled in Hebrew, Yiddish and Polish, she published essays covering Lviv’s intellectual life and urban landscape, the role of women in society and art. Yet, her name has always been connected with the Polish prose stylist Bruno Schulz. Vogel’s own work received little attention during her life and after her death in Lviv ghetto in 1942.

Пазли Пам’ятi/Fragments of Memory multimedia exhibition was launched at the Lviv Museum of Ideas, Ukraine during the International Book Forum in September 2017 with the accompanying events:

September 14: Performance of improvisation duo “МО” (Olesya Zdorovetska / Mark Tokar)

September 19:  Public discussion “How to catch up with Debora Vogel?” with Iryna Starovoyt, Yurko Prokhasko, Andrij Pavlyšyn, Danylo Ilnytskyi and Anastasiya Lyubas.

Public discussion “How to catch up with Debora Vogel” as part of the ‘Fragments of Memory’ exhibition at the Lviv Museum of Ideas, September 2017 (photo by Asya Gefter): Adam Pomorski, President of Polish Pen (top right), Danylo Ilnytskyi, Iryna Starovoyt, Yurko Prokhasko (bottom left)

“I’ll only say one thing that is important for me: before Asya and Olesya decided to create this exhibition and chose its goal, we had been overlooking lots of things here, living as if our everyday life had long ellipses in it but we just failed to notice them. We had been living as if we lacked the left hand, the right foot, half the spleen – and failed to notice that. We had been living as if we could only hear about 30 or 40 percent of noises, while the rest was passing us by without us knowing anything. Projects such as this show us that a place is important. For this whole writing, this whole life – an unhappy life – happened here, and it had to happen here, and it was brutal, and then there were thousands, tens of thousands, millions of such lives… And now, when we’re in this city, when we are peopling it – as guests who have come from afar, as those who seem to be here and to have been here for a long time – we are having a moment of insight, a moment when our hearing returns to us, while Debora is having a moment when her voice is returned to her.” (Iryna Starovoyt, literature critic, poet, translator, editor, lecturer and one of the project participants)

‘Fragments of Memory’ exhibition at the Lviv Museum of Ideas, September 2017 (photo by Asya Gefter)

One of the most touching things about the exhibition was the visitors’ responses and comments they left. People shared what they felt, what it made them think about. They reflected on things we didn’t think about or didn’t notice ourselves. We hope this means we succeeded in creating an immersive experience (with photographs, videos, music, texts) for the audience, that the project isn’t static and will evolve as we move forward. Here are some of them:

“This is an important, long-awaited topic. Tactfully done, with a very well measured amount of mourning and sweet sorrow. The reflections of our contemporaries are important.”

“I’ve felt a living, fading, tragic history of my homeland thanks to the artistic force of the photography. My best wishes to the authors.”

“The exhibition consistently unfolds in time and space. The corridor, the monastery vault makes one walk from a picture to a picture, from a text to a text… Consistently, like in a book.”

“Walking through the exhibits, one forgets about time, about transience of things; one begins to feel something eternal, something impossible to throw out of memory. One begins to understand that there are people, things, events that will always be with us.”

“That’s how it works: starting with one trace, at one place, the searcher finds traces, and then – a whole story which is connected to the world history.”

The project has been supported by A-n Travel bursary (UK), Asylum Arts ‘Small Grant’ (US), Kickstarter Crowdfunding campaign, Lviv Book Forum and Lviv Museum of Ideas. The plan is to tour the exhibition and develop a dedicated website with project material in English, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish. In the meantime the Lviv Exhibition information is available here: www.facebook.com/FragmentsOfMemory with links to articles, videos, photos, feedbacks and project updates.

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ПАЗЛИ ПАМ’ЯТI – мультимедійна експозиція у відповідь на життя і творчість Дебори Фоґель, письменниці та критикині авангарду міжвоєнного періоду, та її рідного міста Львова – мікровсесвіту бурхливого XX століття Європи. Ця історія-подорож місцями Львова – cпроба дослідити пласти пам’яті через аудіовізуальні інсталяції, фотографії та тексти. Робота над проектом почалася зі збірки віршів Дебори Фоґель у перекладі Юрка Прохаська під час Форуму Видавців у вересні 2015 року. Протягом цих двох років авторкам проекту – Асі Гефтер та Олесі Здоровецькій – пощастило зустрітися з дивовижними людьми, які ділилися роздумами щодо роботи пам’яті, зв’язку поколінь, джерел страху і відповідальності за минуле. Важлива частина експозиції – матеріал з будівлі колишнього Єврейського музею у Львові.

Подiї в рамках експозиції у Львівському Музії Ідей:
14.09 Вiдкриття / перформанс дуету “МО” (Здоровецька / Токар)
19.09 Дискусія “Як наздогнати Дебору Фогель?” за участі Ірини Старовойт, Юрка Прохаська, Данила Ільницького, Анастасії Любас та Андрiя Павлишина.

Матеріали експозиції згодом увійде до окремого веб-ресурсу, присвяченого проекту. Тим часом з матеріалами експозиції можна ознайомитися на сторінці www.facebook.com/FragmentsOfMemory

Articles, podcasts and interviews (in English, Ukrainian and Yiddish):

http://radioskovoroda.com/program/Trevel-shou-Oresta-Zuba/Sezon-1-epizod-2-–-Meksyka

http://culture.pl/ru/article/yak-nazdognati-deboru-fogel

http://yiddish.forward.com/articles/206458/multimedia-exhibit-breathes-new-life-into-dvoyre-f/

https://zbruc.eu/node/72335