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Letters to Afar


Presented by YIVO and the Museum of the City of New York

Installation by Péter Forgács and The Klezmatics
Commissioned by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
On View October 22, 2014 - March 22, 2015
Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10029

For hours of operation and tickets to the exhibition, visit here or call (212) 534-1672.

Letters to Afar is an immersive video art installation based on home movies taken by New York City’s Jewish immigrants, who traveled back to visit Poland during the 1920s and 30s. Presenting poignant family reunions and everyday life in small towns, Letters transports the viewer to a world and culture on the brink.

Letters was created by award-winning Hungarian media artist Péter Forgács, based on a collection of home movies housed in YIVO’s archives, with an original score by The Klezmatics. It was commissioned by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and the YIVO Institute and made possible with the generous support of the Kronhill Pletka Foundation, the Righteous Persons Foundation, the Seedlings Foundation, Mr. Sigmund Rolat, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Press Coverage of Letters to Afar

The New York Times
The Jewish Week (October 23, 2014)
The Jewish Week (October 28, 2014)
The Daily Beast

View our photo album of the opening reception.


While Letters is on view, YIVO and the Museum of the City of New York will co-present public and educational programs that explore themes raised by the exhibition.

To keep current with Letters programming, sign up for YIVO’s mailing list here.


THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30 | 7:00pm
Creating History: Can We Tell the Past?
Panel

Location: YIVO Institute, 15 West 16th Street
Admission: General $12 | YIVO and MCNY Members $8
Box Office: smarttix.com | (212) 868-4444

How do we engage with what is no longer here? Artist Péter Forgács (filmmaker, Letters to Afar), novelist Boris Fishman (A Replacement Life), and scholars Marci Shore (Yale), Steven Zipperstein (Stanford), and Amelia Glaser, moderator (UC San Diego) present their work and discuss how art and scholarship shape our understanding of the past. How do artists’ and scholars’ views differ from our understanding of our own histories? Read more...


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2 | 11:00am-6:30pm
The Alchemist: A Péter Forgács Film Retrospective

Location: YIVO Institute, 15 West 16th Street
Admission:
Individual Screenings: General $10 | YIVO and MCNY Members $8 | Click "read more" to purchase tickets
Discussion: General $15 | YIVO and MCNY Members $12
Day Pass (all screenings + discussion): General $25 | YIVO and MCNY Members $20 | Purchase

In this first retrospective of Péter Forgács’s Jewish films, viewers are invited to explore questions about history, memory and meaning-making through the particular lens of the Jewish experience. Screenings of Free Fall, A Bibó Reader, The Danube Exodus, Miss Universe 1929, and The Maelstrom will be shown, followed by a discussion with Péter Forgács and film scholar Bill Nichols at 6:30pm. Read more...


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 4 | 6:30pm
New Narratives out of Old Film: A Conversation with Péter Forgács and Alan Berliner
Talk

Location: Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10029
Admission: General $16 | Students and seniors $12 | YIVO and MCNY Members FREE
Box Office: mcny.org

Join Péter Forgács and Alan Berliner, two of today’s leading experimental and documentary filmmakers for a conversation about Forgács’s Letters to Afar, a new immersive video art installation. The Budapest-based Forgács creates work that use archival or “found footage” in unexpected ways, blurring the line between public and private narratives, and Brooklyn-born Alan Berliner has been called “America’s foremost cinematic essayist” and “the modern master of personal documentary filmmaking.” Read more...


WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3 | 7:00pm
Coming of Age in Poland: Jewish Life Stories from the 1930s
Talk

Location: Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10029
Admission: General $16 | Students and seniors $12 | YIVO and MCNY Members FREE
Box Office: mcny.org

What was life like for Jews coming of age in Poland during the interwar years? In the 1930s, scholars at the YIVO Institute set out to study Jewish life in Poland through an innovative approach—holding a series of autobiography contests for Jewish youth. In this talk, Jeffrey Shandler (Rutgers) explores the insights that the resulting stories provide into the rich, complex lives of this singular generation. Excerpts from several autobiographies will be read during this program. Read more...




This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.