“Four Women (Excerpt) of October 7th, 1944”
[New York, NY] – The world premiere of choreographer Jonah Bokaer’s “Four Women,” a dance/film installation inspired by four women who were hanged for their participation in an attempted rebellion against the SS troupers on October 7, 1944 at Auschwitz, opens at the Center for Jewish History on October 7. The film is part of an exhibition entitled “October 7, 1944,” which takes place within the Popper Gallery at CJH.
Using four female dancers, Bokaer’s 30 minute work is a distillation and abstraction of the heroic but little known story of the four women—Ala Gertner, Roza Robota, Regina Safirzthajn, Ester Wajeblum– who secreted ammunition into the death camp to aide a carefully planned, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising which included the explosion of the camp’s crematorium. Rather than text, “Four Women” is dependent on the language of the body to honor and explore subject matter in which human bravery and brutality defies spoken language. The work is choreographed and directed by Jonah Bokaer, with editing by Nir Arieli.
Bokaer’s research for the project included spending five days at Auschwitz in August during which time he met with and received importance guidance in his work from Dr. Igor Bartosik, Specialist & Authority on the Sonderkommando; Szymon Kowalski, Deputy Head of the Archive; Elżbieta Cajzer, Head of the Collections Department and Paweł Sawicki, who arranged the 5-day research.
Curated by American Jewish Historical Society Executive Director Rachel Lithgow, “October 7, 1944” draws on many of the riches of the Center’s Archives, as well as those of its tenant organizations, including the American Jewish Historical Society and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. It will feature a series of graphite drawings by Bokaer and a deconstructed violin (Bach’s “Chaconne,” a section of Bach’s Violin Partita in D minor, recorded by Henryk Szeryng will be gently playing in the background). There will also be selected memorabilia from the camp including eyewitness testimonies, log books and documents from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. The exhibit additionally includes “Study for Occupant,” a film of a work by Bokaer from 2012, featuring the same cast of four women.
WHERE TO GO
“October 7, 1944” is open to the public Monday, 5pm-8pm, Wednesday, 11am-8pm; and Friday, 11am-2:30pm. The exhibition closes December 30.
Tickets: Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday are $8.00 for adults, and $6.00 for seniors and students. Monday, Wednesday(5pm-8pm) and Friday free.
The Popper Gallery is located at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, 15 West 16th Street.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born to Tunisian and American parents in Ithaca, NY, Jonah Bokaer is an international choreographer, media artist, and artspace developer. His work, which integrates choreography with digital media, is often the result of his cross-disciplinary collaborations with artists and architects.
Creating choreography for museum spaces since 2002, Bokaer’s work has been exhibited at The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, P.S.1 MoMA, The New Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, as well as in The Asia Society Texas Center, Le Carré d’Art à Nîmes, IVAM Valencia, Kunsthalle St. Gallen, and MUDAM Luxembourg, among others.