‘FOUR WOMEN,’ A DANCE FILM BY JONAH BOKAER, WILL BE AMONG HIGHLIGHTS OF HIS SOLO EXHIBITION “OCTOBER 7, 1944” COMMISSIONED BY THE AMERICAN JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY, OPENS OCTOBER 7 AT THE CENTER FOR JEWISH HISTORY
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 in Auschwitz on October 7, 1944, opens at the Center for Jewish History on October 7. The film is part of Bokaer’s exhibition entitled “October 7, 1944,” which takes place at Yeshiva University Museum’s 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, Róża Robota, Regina Szafirsztajn, Estera Wajcblum–who secreted ammunition into the death camp to aide a carefully planned, but ultimately unsuccessful uprising which included the explosion of one of the camp’s crematoria. 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 important 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 and commissioned by the American Jewish Historical Society and curated by its Executive Director, Rachel Lithgow, “October 7, 1944” draws on the riches of American Jewish Historical Society and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research archives. It will feature a series of hand drawn 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 archival material from Auschwitz and the National Jewish Welfare Board will be featured as part of the exhibit. 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 Yeshiva University Museum’s Popper Gallery is located at the Center for Jewish History in New York City, 15 West 16th Street.
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. A full list of museum projects is listed below.
The author of 33 choreographies, ten videos, three motion capture works, three interactive installations, two mobile applications, and one film, Bokaer’s work been produced throughout theaters in Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Recent performances include two seasons at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival (2011-2012), the 2012 Festival d’Avignon in France,Théâtre de la Cité Internationale in Paris, and the BAM Next Wave Festival 2012, for which he was commissioned for the inauguration of BAM Fisher, with artist Anthony McCall. Upcoming works include a commission from the Ludwig Museum of Budapest, BAM Next Wave Festival, and the inauguration of Frank Gehry’s newly designed LVMH Foundation in Paris.
In 2008-2009 Bokaer became the first dance artist to be appointed a Young Leader of the French American Foundation, in acknowledgment of his efforts to develop Chez Bushwick, and CPR – Center for Performance Research, two independent arts centers which nurture young artists in New York City and internationally. Bokaer has collaborated with artists including Daniel Arsham (2007-present), Anne Carson, Merce Cunningham, Robert Gober, Anthony McCall, Tino Sehgal, and Robert Wilson (2007-present).
As choreographer for Robert Wilson, he has completed many operas including “Faust” (Polish National Opera), “Aïda” (Teatro dell’Opera di Roma), “KOOL” (Japan/USA Guggenheim Works & Process), and “Fronteras” (IVAM Valenica), and “On The Beach” (Baryshnikov Arts Center).
Bokaer was recently named one of ten American artists to receive a Doris Duke Charitable Foundation grant award for the development of his third mobile application, in partnership with Georgia Tech.