International symposium organised as part of 'Out of the Shadows' festival in Sydney, 2017
|Date||13th August 2017 - 14th August 2017|
As an intellectual focus of the major AHRC-funded research project ‘Performing the Jewish Archive’, this symposium reflects on some of the urgent ethical and intellectual questions raised by the performance of often lost, forgotten or neglected Jewish artworks from the long twentieth century. In undertaking performances of these works from Madison to Prague, Sydney to Cape Town, as well as in the UK, the PTJA project has been motivated by a complex set of concerns about the role of art ‘after testimony’, the ways in which audience responses to such performances can be ethically tracked, the function of empathy in engaging with this art, and the central importance of an ethical, historically-informed approach to such performance. Yet troubling ethical questions remain with us: For instance, the performance of a lost play from the Terezín ghetto in the site of a massacre of York’s medieval Jewish community, the adaptation of a Zionist oratorio written in the direct aftermath of the Holocaust for contemporary audiences in several different social and political contexts, the role of empathy in engaging with these artworks, or the place of performance in Holocaust education raise questions pertaining to the ethics of artistic production of traumatic and deeply affective material.
Questions we ask potential contributors to reflect upon include:
• How can performance engage respectfully with the gaps to be found in archives, and with the losses inherent to Jewish history of the twentieth century?
• How can co-textual information ethically inform audiences about complex and often difficult knowledge? How can performance, by contrast, provide a form of knowledge inaccessible through archival research alone?
• What role can historical authenticity play in such performances, not least given the long debates about the limits of representation that surround artwork associated with the Shoah?
• To what extent is the contemporary emphasis on empathy as a desired outcome of engagement with difficult histories and artworks itself ethically problematic? How might we rethink the relationship between empathy, trauma and the archive?