Maiseh | Have You Seen My Eyes | 31st JCF

Christoph Rothmeier – Have You Seen My Eyes

sound installation in collaboration with: Ruzyndla Choir: Wiktoria Sędzimir, Weronika Sędzimir, Małgorzata Międlarz, Przemysław Ćwik, Dawid Rozmus, Rita Rain, Oleksandr Mazii and Kateryna Sakhanda, as well as Adam Gajda, Pola Pawlikowska, Jörg Hochapfel, Philipp Haffner, Jakub Kubieniec The ghost of a woman searches for what she has lost. Have you seen my eyes?, her voice asks. Her body is in a different place than what she sees. She wanders the streets, looking for what was taken from her. legend: In “The Book of the Polish Jews”, Shmuel Yosef Agnon writes that after Esterka, the legendary lover of King Casimir the Great, passed away, he preserved her eyes – leaving her ghost restlessly wandering the Earth.

When it is hard to find the words, we tell stories. In “Maiseh”, which is the Yiddish word for tale (מייסע), seven legends were told in the public space. These stories are vehicles to grapple with loss, misfortune, betrayal and broken hearts. They arm us with humor, hope, courage and love. They bring us together. Traditionally passed on orally, legends were told over a meal or next to the campfire in almost all known human societies. The act of passing on stories shapes communities, which in turn come up with more tales to tell. Whether it is about a restless phantom roaming the streets, a hidden treasure or the guardian of an ancient synagogue – a “maiseh” usually contains few characters, simple dialogues, and nothing more than a superficial reference to an actual person, geographical location or historical event. These stories are simple and imaginative, sometimes fragmented, confusing or obscure.
During the 31. Jewish Culture Festival artists from Israel, Germany and Poland told their version of legends from Krakow in the medium of their choosing. Tales and legends transform as they are shared, slightly altered by the storyteller each time they are told. It is in the nature of the story to be adapted. Shaped as performances, drawings, murals, sound installations, workshops, and letters, the stories of “Maiseh” unfold in the streets of Kazimierz.


Curatorial team: Yael Sherill, Lianne Mol & Julia Kawka – Curatorial Collective for Public Art / Berlin, Meydad Eliyahu – HaMiffal / Jerusalem, Paweł Kowalewski – Jewish Culture Festival / Kraków Video: Julia Kawka