European Association for Jewish Culture 



2004 Grant recipients' biographical notes 

Performing arts: new works for the stage

Olympia Estrella (Seville, Spain) has trained in classical dance at the Grenade Conservatory and with masters of flamenco dance. Her contemporary dance work the Spectrum Jazz Company has been based mainly on explorations of jazz. Her new solo Encuentro combines flamenco, jazz and Jewish musical traditions of Rumania, Spain and the Balkans. It will be performed at the Jewish State Theatre in Bucharest in March 2004.

Laura Forti (Florence, Italy) is an actress and a playwright. Since 1992 she has given classes on body expression and theatre in workshops run by the City of Prato. She is also co-director of Centrale dell'Arte in Florence with composer and director, Roberto 'Teo' Paoli. Together they have directed performances such as Murder, inspired by Israeli playwright, Hanoch Levin's text Rezah on the themes of war and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, The Cannibals by George Tabori, a performance on the theme of Holocaust memory and Le Nuvole Tornano a Casa (Clouds Go Back Home) by Forti. Her EAJC project, Tell Me - A Story That's Never been Written, is in collaboration with Centrale dell'Arte. It will be based on her family history and the Italian authorities' discrimination against Jews applying for economic aid under the Terracini Law. The 1955 law was an attempt to compensate families damaged by fascism but ended up revealing the controversial relationship between the Italian state, the legacy of fascism and the Holocaust. Tell Me will be shown in Florence.

Jaap den Hertog (Trondheim, Norway) is puppet-maker, actor and founder of Teater Fusentast in Norway. Teater Fusentast specializes in puppetry and other performances for young people. Den Hertog's story-telling theatre has performed in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, France, Russia, Burkina, Faso, Benin, Togo, Lithuania and the Netherlands. He gives workshops and lectures in puppet-making and puppetry theatre-related themes. Lasse Aakerlund, a Swedish actor/comedian, playwright and director joined forces with Jaap den Hertog at Teater Fusentast to create Sand Between Your Toes, their EAJC project. This puppetry performance is made for everyone over the age of ten but especially for school audiences. It is presented by two puppeteers/actors in a mixture of story- telling and discussion with the audience. Sand Between Your Toes is based on the experiences of Jaap's mother's family before, during and after the war in Holland. After performances at Trondheim Jewish Museum in February 2004, it will be shown at the Porsgrunn International Theatre Festival in Norway and at puppet theatre festivals in Holland and Belgium.

Michael Kustow (London, UK) is a writer, director and producer. Michael Kustow was the first Commissioning Editor of Arts for the UK Channel 4 Television. Before leaving the channel to become an independent producer of television, films and theatre, he made more than 500 hours of arts and music programmes including Michael Nyman's original opera for television The Man

Michael Kustow (London, UK) is a writer, director and producer. Michael Kustow was the first Commissioning Editor of Arts for the UK Channel 4 Television. Before leaving the channel to become an independent producer of television, films and theatre, he made more than 500 hours of arts and music programmes including Michael Nyman's original opera for television The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, based on Oliver Sacks' book. This marked the start of the collaboration between Michael Kustow and composer, Michael Nyman.. Their new joint project, supported by the EAJC, will be a musical theatre play An Arm and a Leg based on real events featuring the parallel stories of two women actresses, a Jewish Israeli and a Palestinian Israeli. An Arm and a Leg will be shown as a workshop production at the Young Vic Theatre, London followed by performances at Acco Festival, Israel and a European tour.

Tamara Melnik (Brussels, Belgium) is a dancer and choreographer who divides her time between Brussels, Paris and Israel. In 1985 she was awarded the Prize of the Sharett Foundation and has been accepted as a member of the Alvin Ailey dance company. Her many choreographies include Via Bethlehem and Le Saltimbanque de Vitebsk, a multimedia hommage to Marc Chagall. Her new spectacle Imprints, once upon a time which combines dance and video to music by the jazz composer Stephane Pleskoff, will premiere at the Encounters of Young European Theatre in Grenoble in July 2004.

Warren Rosenzweig (Vienna, Austria) is the author of many plays staged in Austria and Germany. He has worked as director of New York's VBACA Downtown Theatre. He founded the Jewish Theatre of Austria in 1999. Peter and the Wolf will be translated into German from a play by the New York playwright, Ari Roth. It deals with the identity crisis of the second generation of Holocaust survivors as they confront problems faced by non-Jews of the same generation following the emergence of the far-right politician Jorg Harder.

David Schneider (London, UK) researched a doctorate in Yiddish drama at Oxford University before becoming a professional actor, writer and director. He has translated the Yiddish classic, The Dybbuk by An-ski for the Royal Shakespeare Company production, has run semi-professional Yiddish theatre groups in London, directed the world premiere in Yiddish of the 1930 play Jacob Jacobson by Arn Tsaytlin and is currently writing a Jewish sitcom for BBC1. Alongside this, he has appeared in shows at the Royal National Theatre and in films. His first screenplay All the Queen's Men is a major feature film. He is best known for his comedy work as an actor/writer for television: The Day Today and Friday Night Armistice. Schneider's new play commissioned by the EAJC, Making Stalin Laugh, is a drama inspired by expressionist performances of the Moscow Yiddish Art Theatre in the 1920s and 30s. The play focuses on Nokhum Senders, the celebrated Yiddish actor of the age who famously made Stalin laugh at a time when the state sponsored Soviet Yiddish theatre was one of the finest, most innovative theatre companies in the world. However, in1952, the principal Yiddish cultural figures in the Soviet Union, writers, actors, artists and poets were executed by Stalin and a whole culture was obliterated. A workshop production by Living Pictures Productions will be performed at The Actor's Centre, London.

Zohar Wexler (Paris, France) was born in Haifa and trained at Ecole Florent. He has staged a number of plays at Théâtre Dejazet and Théâtre de l'Epée including Jehu by Gilad Evron. His new production Yadja ou la tête ailleurs, based on the play by Blanca Merzner and Dan Wolman, is an intimate portrayal of the actress Tahila Gutwilig, a woman marked by her past as a Holocaust survivor. The play will be performed in March 2004 at the Theâtre de l'Opprimé in Paris.

Performing arts: music composition

Jozsef Balogh (Budpest, Hungary) is a clarinettist and composer, who has performed and taught music worldwide. He is a virtuoso player of classical music, jazz, klezmer and gypsy music, and is founder/president of the Hungarian Clarinet Society. Balogh's first composition on a Jewish theme Klezmer Suite has been played by clarinettists all over the world. He is the Director of Javne Music School in Budapest. He has been awarded the EAJC grant for his new composition, Haggada Klezmer Symphony. The music, composed by Balogh and performed by the Ale Brider Band, will recreate the main events of the Haggada and is based on the traditional klezmer tunes and ancient Jewish melodies and harmonies recalling the atmosphere of the Seder evenings. Haggada Klezmer Symphony will premiere at the Petofi Hall in Budapest.

Albert Benhamou (Marseille, France) is the founder of the group Al Benson Jazz Band which specializes in the music of Jazz Messengers (Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver and Lee Morgan) and dance music 'groove'. He is the composer, librettist and interpreter of the jazz opera Noé, no way which is based on mystical Jewish texts. This new work of fusion music addresses the theme of multiple identities.

Francis Biggi (Bovisio Masciago, Italy) studied medieval history and music history in Milan and has a diploma in medieval lute from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Basle. He was a founding member of two Italian medieval music ensembles of the 1980's: Alia Musica and Ars Italica . Biggi has collaborated with early music ensembles in Boston, Basel, Paris, Geneva, Barcelona and Assisi as well as performing in most of the major European early music festivals and throughout the United States and Canada. Since 1992, he has been co-director of Milan's Ensemble Lucidarium alongside Avery Gosfield. Their collaborative project, La Istoria de Purim io ve lo racconto: Jewish Life at the Crossroads in Renaissance Italy, to be performed by Ensemble Lucidarium is a modern reconstruction of the musical environment of Italian Jewish communities during the early Renaissance. It is a project dedicated to the musical and poetic legacy of the Italikim, Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities of Northern Italy. Jewish Life at the Crossroads in Renaissance Italy will be performed at the Regensburg Early Music Festival on 28 May 2004 and at concerts in Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Slovakia and Switzerland. It will be recorded for the label L'empreinte digitale.

Bartosz Chajdecki (Cracow, Poland) became interested in composing from an early age. At sixteen he joined Krakow's Camelot Dungeon cabaret as accompanying pianist and has since written music for plays such as A Little Requiem for Kantor, which was performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1998.

Chajdecki has also written music for a number of short films. In 1999, he was accepted into the Krakow Music Academy and is currently a member of the chamber orchestra, Forum Sinfonia, performing worldwide. Chajdecki's EAJC project, Jewish Suite, is a composition for chamber orchestra, clarinet and piano. The composer's aim is to juxtapose traditional Jewish melodies with forms not usually associated with Jewish culture, originating from various parts of the world such as the tango, waltz or saraband. This is intended by Chajdecki to symbolize the scattering of the Jewish population, nevertheless linked by common culture and tradition. Jewish Suite will be performed by Forum Sinfonia at the Judaica Foundation Centre for Jewish Culture in Kazimierz, Krakow in November 2004.

Burton Greene (Amsterdam, Netherlands) has produced recordings in jazz, electronic, and folk music. He was one of the first jazz musicians to play a synthesizer. Greene studied classical music at Fine Arts Academy in Chicago and moved to New York in 1962. A year later he formed The Free Form Improvisation Ensemble with bassist Alan Silva and recorded for the ESP-Disk label, before moving to Europe in 1969, to Paris and then to Amsterdam where he still lives. His most recent work has been with the klezmer-jazz group Klezmokum, blending Jewish music with improvisation and jazz. They appeared at a number of European festivals, including Mitte Europa Amiens Jazz Festival , the International Jewish Music Festival and Op de Vuupijl, and released five CD recordings of Jewish music for the BV Haast label in Amsterdam. Klezmokum's EAJC project, Ancient and New Roots is a CD recording of new music inspired by traditional Chabad Hassidic melodies and twentieth century Jewish composers with Greene deliberately adding folkloristic themes that have catchy, poignant melodies and rhythms to the mix.

Andrew Lovett (Cambridge, UK) has been a composer since 1987. He studied music as an undergraduate at Magdalene College, Cambridge and has a PhD in electroacoustic composition from The City University, London. He is Director of Music for Fitzwilliam College and Director of Studies at Fitzwilliam, New Hall, Downing and Peterhouse, Cambridge. He was co-founder of the Alchemy Music Theatre and Founder and Artistic Director of the Cambridge Digital Arts Festival in 1998. He specializes in electroacoustic, vocal and chamber music, opera and theatre. His work has been performed in Germany, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Canada, Cuba, the USA and in the UK. His new project commissioned by EAJC, Abraham, is a digital opera for five voices and electronics with a libretto by Mike Levy. It will be produced and performed by Vocem Electric Voice Theatre. The first act of this opera recounts the original story of Abraham and Isaac. The second act is set in a California courtroom, where the trial of a modern murderer unfolds, inspired by Carol Delaney's 1998 book, Abraham on Trial: The Social Legacy of Biblical Myth. Recordings will include readings of the story of Abraham and Isaac in Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Latin and modern European languages. It will premiere at the Cambridge Drama Centre/Junction in 2005.

Stefan Sablic (Belgrade, Yugoslavia) studied at the University of Dramatic Art in Belgrade, the University of Tel Aviv and the Reanot Institute for Jewish Music in Jerusalem. He is a pianist, singer, composer and playwright, who has had five plays staged in Belgrade. As a singer, he has researched the musical traditions of Belgrade and Skopje. In collaboration with the choreographer Boris Cakshiran, he has adapted a play by Isaac Samokovlija, The Blonde Jewish Girl, which deals with questions of prejudice and preconceptions. It will be performed at the Drama Theatre in Belgrade.

Zahava Seewald (Brussels, Belgium) is a museum curator and a singer whose repertoire spans Ashkenazi as well as oriental Sephardi traditions and religious music. Michaël Grébil, musician and composer, takes his inspiration from contemporary electronic music as much as from medieval musical traditions. Their project Hebrew poetry and music combines Hebrew language poetry from across the centuries with judeo-marrocan music and new melodies. The recording will appear under the Tsadik label established by the eminent New York musician John Zorn.

Visual arts: exhibitions of new work

Zanet Battinou (Athens, Greece), the director of the Jewish Museum in Athens, will be responsible for the photographic exhibition featuring the work of Greek photographers Samuel Negrin and Giannis Panagakos. Their black and white photographs of The Synagogues of Greece: Light and Shadow, document the variety of architectural and decorative styles, and aim to recreate the spiritual and peaceful atmosphere of these buildings. The exhibition will be held at the Benrubi Art Gallery at the Jewish Museum, Athens from November 2004 to May 2005.

David Benainous (Paris, France) was born in Paris but his work is strongly influenced by his family's history in Djerba, Tunisia. His themes have included big cities such as New York and the forgotten spaces of concentration camps. Important collectors such as Jacqueline Frydman have purchased his work. He has exhibited recently at Galerie Emotion in Paris. Benaious' new project Traces of Exile, Exile of Traces will be exhibited at Centre Rachi in Paris in June 2004 and elsewhere in Europe later in the year.

Joseph Dadoune (Nice, France) is a photographer who after studying theology and the Talmud, trained in visual arts and photography at Villa Arson in Nice. He has exhibited in Strasbourg, Toulouse, Paris, Israel , USA and Costa Rica. His installation work has met with praise in several European countries. His new project Univers is a photographic and video installation which will be shown in Nice in March 2004 to be followed by further presentations in Israel and the USA.

Pavel Feinstein (Berlin, Germany) was born in Moscow but grew up in Dushanbe in Tajikistan where he attended art school. He continued his studies at the Hochschule der Kuenste in Berlin where he now lives. His work has been exhibited in Germany, Austria and in Britain. Feinstein's works defy classification but have sometimes been described as belonging to the European hyperrealism school. They are representational and are painted mostly in oil. His paintings subvert traditional themes and reinterpret them: his subjects include Jewish stereotypes and traditions. His work has been praised by many artists and critics including Max Lieberman. Feinstein's new exhibition, supported by the EAJC, will be a large Retrospective at the Moses Mendelsohn Academy in Halberstadt from 14 March 2004.

Michaela Hajkova (Prague, Czech Republic) is an art historian and curator of the Fine Art Collection of the Jewish Museum in Prague. Her curatorial work has involved collaborating on many exhibitions of both early and modern Jewish art in Vienna, Graz, Paris, Stockholm, Berlin, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Tokyo. In 2002, working as an independent curator, Hajkova initiated a series of exhibitions showing the work of contemporary Jewish artists. Passageways, Hajkova's EAJC project, takes its title from an essay by the German Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin. The exhibition features the work of Czech photographer Karel Cudlin whose work can be seen in collections at the Prague Museum of Applied Arts, the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and in Lausanne. His photographs for this exhibition remain faithful to the traditional medium of black-and-white photography and aim to examine the phenomenon of frontiers and migration in the present world, transcending cultural, social, ethnic and gender boundaries. Karel Cudlin: Passageways will be exhibited at Robert Guttman Gallery, Prague.

Susan Hiller (London, UK) has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s, but is currently based in Germany. Her innovative work covers a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation, video and photography. Hiller has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions all over the world including Australia, Canada, Cuba, Germany, Norway, UK and the USA. Her work deals with the disturbing ambivalence of certain cultural materials, revealing aspects of our shared experience which often go unrecognized or overlooked. The J Street Project, a video/film and book deals with the effect some 170 street signs in Germany, such as Berlin's Judenstrasse (Jew Street), had on the artist. The project addresses current debates on renaming certain Jewish streets in Germany and explores the complex issues embodied in banal signs, which on one hand are historically racist in their labelling and on the other hand portray respectful commemoration in their contemporary meaning. The J Street Project will be exhibited at Museum Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

Janusz Marciniak (Poznan, Poland) studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, where he is now working as Assistant Professor. He is an art critic, a curator of exhibitions and co-creator of the J.J Haubenstock Collection in the National Museum in Cracow. He has exhibited his work in Poland and abroad, and has worked at the Fondation Pour Entraide Europeenne in Paris and the Instituto Polacco in Rome. In 1993, Marciniak made the album and documentary film, Jozef Czapski - podziemna korona. He has also published numerous books including a book combating antisemitism What have the Jews done? Marciniak's most recent exhibition, supported by EAJC, Only the Old Shrub of Lilac Remains in January 2004 at the municipal Gallery Arsenal in Poznan and his installation Atlantis are works reflecting his childhood memories and his empathy for Jewish life and culture. A destroyed Jewish cemetery in which only a lilac tree remains and a former synagogue converted by the Nazis into a swimming pool are the artist's inspirations. His drawings, paintings, photography, computer animation and installation are a commemoration as well as exploration of the present-day reality of the destroyed Jewish world in Poland.

Daniel Modzinski (Paris, France) is a photographer, who has worked for the cinema and the mass media. Born in Buenos Aires, he has lived in Paris since 1989. His work on Latin American writers in Paris has led to to the publication of La Ciudad de Las Palabras which was awarded a prize by the Festival of Three Continents. His work has been exhibited in Italy, Spain, Colombia and Mexico. His project for the EAJC, L'Europe des ecritures juives explores the relationship between Jewish writers and European cities. The initial exhibition entitled Visages et Regards will be held in Barcelona in June 2004.

Félix Rozen (Boulogne, France) was born in Moscow and studied interior architecture and the arts in Warsaw. He has exhibited at many salons including FIAC, Réalites Nouvelles, Montrouge (first prize for sculpture), Biennale Internationale de Brest (first prize for painting). His particular interests lie in experimenting with the intersection of image and sound. The Rétrospective Félix Rosen will include paintings, sculptures and installations on the theme of individual and collective memory. It will be held at the Palais des Congrès at Mans from March to May 2004.

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