The artist duo behind the internationally successful Warsaw-based Judaica company MI POLIN create a new site-specific art installation for the FENTSTER window gallery in downtown Toronto. This exhibition extends Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar’s deep interest in the Jewish ritual object, the mezuzah, which is traditionally affixed to the doorways of Jewish homes. Creating a window in the shape of large-scale mezuzah within the gallery’s front window (“okno” in Polish), the artists offer an unexpected view to a place that Jews called home for generations, thereby highlighting the crucial role of the mezuzah as a marker of home and of Poland within the span of Jewish history. Visitors will be able to peak into the window space get a vantage point of contemporary Poland in living colour and great beauty, despite the deep scars of the past. The exhibition pushes past stereotypical images locked into the Jewish imagination of a country cast in black and white with mud-packed lanes filled with peddlers and fiddlers on rooftops to a modern place that a flourishing Jewish community calls home today.
Mezuzah Okno is presented as part of MI POLIN in Toronto. For complete event listings, please click here.
On the Doorposts: Making New Jewish Art from Traces of a Jewish Past in Poland, an exhibition about MI POLIN’s mezuzah traces project is on view at the Miles Nadal JCC, October 31 – November 27, 2019
Presented by FENTSTER, The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre and the Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre as part of Neuberger Holocaust Education Week.
This exhibition was made possible by the Kultura Collective of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Founded in 2014 by Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, MI POLIN (Hebrew for “From Poland”) is the first Judaica company in Poland since World War II. Czernek is an accomplished artist and graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and Hebrew Studies, Warsaw University. Prugar is an award-winning photojournalist and graduate of Warsaw University as well as of the prestigious film school at the National Film School in Łódź. Prugar also studied Management at Warsaw School of Economics. Mi Polin’s original Jewish ritual objects are found in the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum in New York and are carried by the most prominent Jewish museums internationally. Mi Polin was commissioned by the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw to create a commemorative project for the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. They designed a yellow paper daffodil badge that is now distributed annually across the country to over 60,000 people to mark the commemoration. The creative duo is deeply involved in Jewish education and outreach initiatives in Poland and abroad exploring subjects ranging from Jewish arts and culture to Jewish life in Poland today. They recently received a grant from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland to develop educational programs in Polish public schools related to their signature project creating mezuzot out of imprints of mezuzah traces still found in doorways across Poland. In 2019, Czernek and Prugar established a foundation to preserve the last physical remnants of the Warsaw Uprising and the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Fall 2019, they will be in Toronto from Warsaw for an artist-residency including the inaugural presentation of original exhibitions at the FENTSTER window gallery and the Miles Nadal JCC presented together with Sarah and Chaim Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre.
Exhibition documentation by Morris Lum
Miles Nadal JCC, Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre
On view 24/7
402 College Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1S8