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The Magnes unveils Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker: A Literary Installation by Moira Roth Where: The Magnes

Collection of Jewish Art and Life, University of California, Berkeley When: January 22 June 28, 2013 Galleries are open to the public Tue-Fri, 11am-4pm. Free admission. On January 22, Alla Efimova, Director of The Magnes, will unveil the exhibition based on a project by internationally renowned author and art historian Moira Roth. Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker is a multi-media installation based on Roths ambitious literary project about a character, who acts as witness to much of twentieth century European history. The project draws on a combination of personal experience, historical facts, and literary imagination. The character, Rachel Marker, is a playright, a poet, and a dreamer. Her reflections are recorded in journal entries and daily handwritten letters, many of them addressed to Franz Kafka after his death. Rachel Markers narrative unfolds against the background of historical events in Europe starting with World War I. At 6 pm on January 22, in The Magnes Auditorium, Roth and Efimova will have a public exchange about the genesis of the Rachel Marker project, the history that serves as its background, and their collaboration that began in 2005. Efimova explains that she chose to present the work at The Magnes because of its attention to historical facts, but also its intriguing exploration of memory and resilience of women, as told by a fictional, deeply personal narrator: Rachel Marker. I am very grateful to Moira Roth for bringing this remarkable fictional character to our attention, said Efimova. I am additionally moved by the inclusion in the exhibition of biographical material about two real Jewish women, who provided inspiration to Roth. This installation exemplifies our mission at The Magnes to bring history and life together, and to provide a place of discovery for all those who enter our community. The installation, which mixes artifacts and large-scale video projection, includes personal photographs and objects, books and manuscripts, a documentary film, and a video montage of historical events in Europe between World War I and the construction of the Berlin Wall. The collaboration with the curator and The Magnes staff has been a remarkable experience. The multi-media installation format gives me as an author a profoundly new reading, a new understanding of the Rachel Marker narrative, says Roth. I know that this combination of texts, images, and sounds that inhabit the same space, will inspire new direction for my future writing.

During the course of the exhibition, Roth will continue to expand the Rachel Marker narrative, offering new elements to the visitors. Visitors will also be encouraged to write their historical reflections and memories, adding them to the installation. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public readings from Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker and relevant literary works. About the Installation: For over ten years, Moira Roth has been creating a fragmented narrative about a fictional Czech Jew, Rachel Marker. Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker has been presented in different forms, including published texts, plays, and performances. Now for the first time, the project takes the form of a multi-media museum installation. Curated by Alla Efimova, it oscillates between history, fiction, and biography. Alongside the presence of fictional characters, the exhibition includes documentary materials about two real women, both Jewish, who have profoundly influenced Roth. One was Rose Hacker (1906-2008), Roths unofficially adopted mother and a well-known English activist, who at age 100 began to write op-eds for a local London newspaper. The other is the legendary Alice HerzSommer, born in 1903 in Prague, who, as a child, met Kafka, a family friend. She became a wellknown pianist in the 1920s-1930s and then during World War II was incarcerated, with her son in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Alice Herz-Sommer, now age 109, lives in London, where she continues to play the piano daily. About the Author: Moira Roth, a Berkeley-based writer and art historian, is the Eugene E. Trefethen Jr. Professor of Art History at Mills College, Oakland. Previously she taught at the University of California, San Diego (197485). Born in London in 1933, Roth has been, from childhood, deeply drawn to European history, culture, and literature. She has traveled widely and spent time in Berlin, Prague, and Paristhe sites where Through the Eyes of Rachel Marker takes place. About The Magnes: The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life provides unprecedented access for scholars and the general public to special collections, exhibitions and public programs. The aim of The Magnes is to blend the rich Jewish tradition of creative discovery with programs that offer a profound collection of knowledge to all people. Combining scholarly programming, special access to artifacts, and exhibitions of art, installation and music, The Magnes is a hub for thoughtful, joyful, and creative exploration of Jewish Art and Life. One of the worlds preeminent collections of Jewish life, culture and history, the Magnes became part of The Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley in 2010. More information on The Magnes is at Image credit: Rose Hacker and Father, Abraham Goldbloom, Berlin, 1929. Courtesy Moira Roth ###

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