ON THE DOORPOSts: making new jewish art from traces of a jewish past in poland

Combining contemporary photography and archival research, this original exhibition takes visitors on a journey across Poland with young Warsaw-based artists and Judaica designers, Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar. Visitors will receive a behind-the-scenes look at their remarkable project to locate and preserve traces of mezuzot still found on doorposts of homes, gateways and apartments across Poland. They cast a bronze mezuzah from a mold made out of the space left behind by the mezuzah that once hung there. They create meaningful, beautiful Jewish ritual objects for today’s home while commemorating Jewish homes abandoned during the Holocaust. To date, Helena and Aleksander have visited over 70 cities and towns, extending their journeys into Ukraine, Belarus and Romania. The exhibition highlights a handful of the more than one hundred mezuzot they have created under the banner of their company, MI POLIN. Discover MI POLIN’s surprising and inspiring story of making Jewish art in Poland today.

OCTOBER 31 - NOVEMBER 27

Guided Tour with the artists: Tuesday, November 5, 2:30 PM  

MONDAY TO FRIDAY 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM; SATURDAY TO SUNDAY 9:00 AM- 7:00 PM

Miles Nadal JCC, The Gallery at the J
750 Spadina Avenue, Toronto / 416-924-6211

 

 

MEZUZAH OKNO 

The artist duo behind the internationally successful Warsaw-based Judaica company MI POLIN create a new site-specific art installation for the FENTSTER window gallery in downtown Toronto. This exhibition extends Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar’s deep interest in the Jewish ritual object, the mezuzah, which is traditionally affixed to the doorways of Jewish homes. Creating a window in the shape of a large-scale mezuzah within the gallery’s front window /“okno” in Polish, the artists offer an unexpected view to a place that Jews called home for generations. Visitors will be able to peek into the window space get a vantage point of contemporary Poland in living colour and great beauty, despite the deep scars of the past. The exhibition pushes past stereotypical images locked into the Jewish imagination of a country cast in black and white with mud-packed lanes filled with peddlers and fiddlers on rooftops to a modern place that a flourishing Jewish community still calls home. 

 

Opening Talk & Reception: Tuesday, October 29, 7:30 PM

October 30, 2019 - March 1, 2020 / FENTSTER projects are on view 24/7.

FENTSTER @ Makom

402 College Street, Toronto / INFO@FENTSTER.ORG

ABOUT MI POLIN 

MI POLIN (Hebrew for “From Poland”) is the first Judaica company in Poland since the Second World War. MI POLIN is run by accomplished artist Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, an award-winning photojournalist. Their work is part of the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum (New York). With funding from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, MI POLIN will be developing programs in public schools related to their signature project, Mezuzah From This Home. They speak regularly in Poland and abroad about their art and about Jewish life in Poland today.

While in Toronto for Holocaust Education Week, Czernek and Prugar will speak at the Legacy Symposium, FENTSTER, the Appel Salon, the Miles Nadal JCC and Limmud. They will lead arts workshops for school groups and an all-ages workshop open to the public at the Danforth Jewish Circle.

 


ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF MI POLIN

co-presented by

the Miles Nadal JCC, FENTSTER and the Neuberger.

Made possible by the Kultura Collective of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

THE OTHER SHELF: MI POLIN at the appel salon

Presented by the Toronto Public Library 

Join Warsaw-based artists Helena and Aleksander for an illustrated presentation on their adventures through former Jewish communities into bustling shops, abandoned buildings and quiet courtyards, interacting with locals and returning relatives. It's a surprising and inspiring story of making Jewish art in Poland today.

Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar will appear in conversation with award-winning writer and filmmaker David Bezmozgis.

Part of the Toronto Reference Library's literary series, The Other Shelf, where we present exceptional writers in a smaller space. These events are held in the Novella Room in the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon. Check out the full lineup at tpl.ca/appelsalon

Monday, November 4 / 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Bram and Bluma Appel Salon / 789 Yonge Street / 2nd floor / toronto

intergenerational mezuzah-making workshop

The artist duo behind MI POLIN, Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, will be running one public art making workshop during their time in Toronto, hosted by the Danforth Jewish Circle. The artists will speak about how they draw inspiration for their original Judaica designs and will share the remarkable story behind their project to locate and preserve traces of mezuzot still found on doorposts across Poland. From these traces, they make new mezuzot creating meaningful, beautiful Jewish ritual objects for today’s home while commemorating Jewish homes abandoned during the Holocaust. All participants will then have the opportunity to create their own original mezuzah for your homes, learning artistic techniques from Helena and Aleksander and drawing inspiration from Jewish art traditions around the world.

 

Registration is open to all ages 10 and up. This workshop is limited to 32 participants / 16 pairs. Pairs may include: one adult and one child or two children (at least one aged 12 or older). All materials will be provided. REGISTRATION DEADLINE: OCTOBER 23

 

For more information and to register go to: www.djctoronto.com or contact info@djctoronto.com

 

Presented by the Danforth Jewish Circle together with FENTSTER, the Miles Nadal JCC and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre. Made possible in part thanks to the Kultura Collective of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

sunday, november 3 / 4-6 pm

danforth jewish circle / 310 danforth avenue

advance registration required 

 

MI POLIN AT LIMMUD: MAKING NEW JEWISH ART FROM TRACES OF A JEWISH PAST IN POLAND

MI POLIN (Hebrew for “from Poland”) is the first Judaica company established in Poland since World War II. MI POLIN’s founders, Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, see their work as a way of strengthening their Polish-Jewish identity, extending the legacy of 1,000 years of Jewish life and creativity in Poland until today. Their passion project has taken them across the country in search of traces of mezuzot still found on doorposts of homes, gateways and apartments. Over the last six years, Helena and Aleksander have driven over 50,000 kilometers and visited over 70 cities and towns with their journeys extending into the Ukraine, Belarus and Romania. When they discover a trace of mezuzah that once hung there, they make a mold of the space left behind and cast a new bronze mezuzah, creating a positive shape from the negative space. They have created more than 100 mezuzahs, often visiting a new city at the request of descendants of Polish-Jewish families around the world. Each trip is followed up with archival research, unlocking the stories of the Jewish families that once lived in these homes. Join Warsaw-based artists Helena and Aleksander for an illustrated presentation on their adventures through former Jewish communities into bustling shops, abandoned buildings and quiet courtyards, interacting with locals and returning relatives. It’s a surprising and inspiring story of making Jewish art in Poland today.

Sunday, November 10 / 3:30pm - 4:15pm

LIMMUD festival

university of toronto, faculty of law / 78 queen's park 

tickets and more information: LIMMUD.CA

 

All images courtesy of MI POLIN. To learn more, visit https://www.mipolin.pl/

MI POLIN in toronto for holocaust education week is CO-PRESENTED BY THE MILES NADAL JCC, FENTSTER AND THE NEUBERGER and maDE POSSIBLE BY THE KULTURA COLLECTIVE OF UJA FEDERATION OF GREATER TORONTO.