Lara Bongard - The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth
Lara Bongard inherited a 100 year old Shabbat tablecloth, the only surviving heirloom from the vanished world of her ancestors, with which her great-grandfather Mordko Bongard crossed the river of his shtetl in 1911 and never returned. He left his family and community, to escape the pogroms that swept the regions. Lara embarked on an extensive research into the scattered history of her family in the previous Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine). She retraced family members, collected testimonies, photographs, letters and archival material, researched Yiddish tales, symbols and mythologies — in order to reconstruct her own image of the past. The tablecloth grew into a symbol of life: sharing food with family across time, connecting East with West, the generations, and diversity of cultures we as a family represent. Gradually, dislocation became a portable home.
‘The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth’ is a multidimensional work and dynamic space of memory, in which fictional stories about the lives of her ancestors are written in conjunction with the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar, travel stories and memories, photographs and illustrations. The project contributes to generating new connecting narratives about the fluid meaning of being 'at home' in our contemporary world and reframing perspectives on multiple histories and identity.
‘The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth’ is presented at the Kunstkabinet of the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam, taking place from 8.04 – 01.10.2023.
> 272 pgs, 24 × 17 cm, Softcover, 2023, 9789464665178