Letters to Afar: Oct 22, 2014 - Mar 22, 2015

Co-presented by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Letters to Afar: By Péter Forgács, music by the Klezmatics is an immersive video art installation based on home movies made by New York City’s Jewish immigrants who traveled back to visit Poland during the 1920s and 30s. The films document poignant family reunions and everyday life in small towns in the years before the Second World War, capturing a culture on the brink.

The installation was created by Hungarian artist Péter Forgács, under a commission by the Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. With a haunting soundtrack by the New York-based band The Klezmatics, these “letters” bring to life a lost world in startling and moving detail.

The exhibition is made possible with generous support from:

The Kronhill Pletka Foundation
Righteous Persons Foundation
Seedlings Foundation
Sigmund Rolat

Additional support is provided by New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Public Programs

Creating History: Can We Tell the Past?
Thursday, October 30 at 7:00 pm
A panel of artists and scholars present their work and discuss how their mediums shape our understanding of the past.

The Alchemist: A Péter Forgács Film Retrospective
Sunday, November 2; 11:00 am–6:30 pm
Join YIVO for the first-ever retrospective of Péter Forgács’s Jewish films.

New Narratives out of Old Film: A Conversation with Péter Forgács and Alan Berliner
Tuesday, November 4 at 6:30pm
Join Péter Forgács and Alan Berliner, two of today¹s leading experimental and documentary filmmakers for a conversation.

Coming of Age in Poland: Jewish Life Stories from the 1930s
Wednesday, December 3 at 7:00 pm
Discover the rich, complex lives of this singular generation through a presentation of excerpts from a 1930s series of autobiography contests held for Jewish youth.

Educator Programs

Free Educator Open House: Letters to Afar: By Péter Forgács, Music by The Klezmatics
Wednesday, November 19 from 5:00 - 6:30 pm
Experience this immersive video art installation co-presented by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, depicting Jewish immigrants returning to their homes in Poland to visit their families in the 1920s and 30s.

Educator Workshop: Letters to Afar: Full-Day Workshop with Facing History and Ourselves
Wednesday, January 14 from 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Join Museum staff and Facing History and Ourselves to explore these questions while considering the historical and contemporary issues relating to immigration and identity in the United States.

View Video

With a haunting soundtrack by the New York-based band The Klezmatics, filmmaker Péter Forgács's “letters” bring to life a lost world in startling and moving detail.

Press

  • "Precious Windows on a Vanished World" New York Times
  • "In Hands of Hungarian Artist, Jewish Home Movies of the ’30s a Warning of Coming Holocaust" The Daily Beast
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    Location

    James G. Dinan and Elizabeth R. Miller Gallery
    First Floor