Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker

A Literary Installation by Moira Roth
On View:
Jan 22, 2013 - Jun 28, 2013
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
2121 Allston Way | Berkeley , CA
The Magnes
Gallery Hours:
Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm

A multi-media installation based on a literary project by Moira Roth, a leading international voice in feminism, performance and contemporary art.

For over ten years, writer and art historian Moira Roth has been creating a fragmented narrative about a fictional Czech Jew, Rachel Marker.  Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker has been presented in different forms, including published texts, plays, and performances. Now for the first time, the project takes the form of a multi-media museum installation. Curated by The Magnes Director, Alla Efimova, it oscillates between history, fiction, and biography.

Rachel Marker, a poet and playwright, is a witness to much of twentieth century European history, which she describes in journal entries and daily hand-written letters, many of them addressed to Franz Kafka.  The narrative begins in Zurich during WWI and winds its way through the rise of Fascism, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Alongside the presence of fictional characters, the exhibition includes documentary materials about two real women, both Jewish, who have profoundly influenced Roth. One was Rose Hacker, Roth’s unofficially adopted mother and a well-known English activist, who at age 100 began to write op-eds for a local London newspaper. The other is the legendary Alice Herz-Sommer, born in 1903 in Prague, who, as a child, met Kafka, a family friend. She became a well-known pianist in the 1920s-1930s and then during World War II was incarcerated, with her son in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.  Alice Herz-Sommer now lives in London, where she continues to play the piano daily.

During the course of the exhibition, Roth will continue to develop the narrative and add new elements to the installation. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public readings from Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker and relevant literary works.

Moira Roth, a writer and art historian, is the Trefethen Art History chair at Mills College, Oakland. She is a leading international voice in feminism, performance and contemporary art. Born in London in 1933, Roth has been, from childhood, deeply drawn to European history, culture and literature. She has also traveled widely, and often stayed in Berlin, Prague and Paris— the sites in which Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker takes place.

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