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Project Statement

by J. Lukac

The first incarnation of Kaddish was a video installation commissioned by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. An exploration of the role of the photographic image in the construction and preservation of both individual and collective memory, it placed the viewer inside a darkened room filled with fleeting, projected images and the voices of Holocaust survivors sharing the memories those images evoked. When I proposed a re-working of the same images to the Visual Studies Workshop, I was aware of the radically different visceral effect they would create in book form: intimate, portable, and accompanied this time by the written, rather than the spoken, word. Both the video installation and the book version of Kaddish focus upon the details of several survivors´ everyday lives before they were forced to undertake what curator Miquel Berga describes as “a painful journey light of luggage”, the cruel experience of the dispossessed, the prisoner, the refugee and the exile who must leave almost all material possessions behind. In the case of the wonderful people who shared their personal photographs with me during this project, the meagre photographic evidence of their prior lives that they were able to keep with them or recover after the war was a very important element in preserving and developing their sense of identity.The book takes its title from the Kaddish, the Jewish mourners´ prayer. Like the traditional Kaddish prayer, the photographic book produced at the Visual Studies Workshop remembers the dead and their vanished world, but is not a bitter lament. A painful reminder of loss, the photograph is also a powerful reminder of who we have been, who we are now and who we might be in the future. Life, like a photograph, takes its form through the dramatic play of light and shadow. Kaddish was an attempt to let my collaborators share the light, as well as the shadow, of their life stories.


Jenni Lukac

title note: The title is the same as the artist's video installation commissioned by the Museum of Women in the Arts. [T. Shaw]


Jenni Lukac

type: initiating


Visual Studies Workshop

type: initiating


Publication Information

publication: 1995-00-00

Aesthetic Profile



themes: Photography's role in memory, personal and collective [T. Shaw]

content form:
Installation documentation

publication tradition:
artists' book (local)

inspiration: Kaddish, the Jewish mourners' prayer [T. Shaw]

related works: Installation of the same name [T. Shaw]

community: other Visual Studies Workshop [T. Shaw]

note: Produced during a residency at VSW, Rochester, NY [T. Shaw]

Related Documents

manuscript type: other

location: artist's archive