The abandoned building perched on the hill was once a Hassidic Jewish Synagogue. It was last used as a synagogue in 1940 when the Jewish population of Kaunas was 32,000 people, almost a quarter of the city’s residents. Today the Jewish population of Kaunas is less than 500.
A Murmuration is an evocation of that absence.
Definition of Murmuration – /məːməːˈreɪʃ(ə)n/
1. the act of murmuring: the utterance of low continuous sounds or complaining noises
The murmuration of the crowds — A. E. Richardson
Ceaseless, inarticulate murmuration of prayer — Frederic Prokosch
2. of starlings: (Zoology) a collective term for starlings
In the stackyard there was a great murmuration of starlings — Mary Webb
Late Middle English: from French, from Latin murmuratio(n-), from murmurare “to murmur”. The usage as a collective noun dates from the late 15th century.
It turns out that the beauty of murmuration movements often arises purely out of defence, as starlings strive to put distance between themselves and the predator. The starling is one of our most recognisable birds, but figures show that 40 million starlings have disappeared from the European Union… since 1980. (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)
A Murmuration. 2017
Former Synagogue, Gimnazijos g. 6, Kaunas
From dusk till dawn
Video projection and LED lighting. In partnership with Kaunas faculty of the Vilnius Academy of Art
More info: http://bienale.lt/2017/en/jennykagan-1/
The Kaunas suburb of Vilijampolė was the location of the Kaunas Ghetto from 1941 until its complete destruction in 1944. The Aibė shop stands on the site known during the ghetto period as Demokratų Square. Here, on 28 October 1941, a mass selection took place that resulted in the largest single mass extermination of Jews during the war in Lithuania. It became known as The Big Action.
The entire population of the ghetto, almost 30,000 people, was ordered to assemble on Demokratų Square at 6 am. They were told it was a census, and that anyone found remaining in their houses would be shot. The selection began at 9 am, and went on all day. Columns of people were marched past the Gestapo Commandant who sent them to one side or to the other, to the left or to the right. Sometimes whole families together, others divided with a nod or a flick of the finger.
In the evening those on the right side were allowed to return to their homes. Those on the left side were held overnight and the next morning were marched to the Ninth Fort and shot. 9,200 men, women and children were dead before nightfall.
There is no memorial or any sign here to mark this event.
Jenny Kagan creates a memorial in Demokratų Square to that fateful day and to every person whose very existence hung on just two words: left or right. Instead of a rigid construction of a traditional monument the artist makes an intervention into an everyday ritual of the people who live around the square today.
The Big Action. 2017
Printed and hand written materials, produced in collaboration with the students from Kaunas Jonas and Petras Vileišiai School.
You are invited to make a purchase from: Aibė, Vytenio g. 22, Vilijampolė, Kaunas
More info: https://bienale.lt/2017/en/bigaction/