Storytelling, textiles and food

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There is beauty to be found in embracing the multiplicity of stories that constitute our identities. The essence of home is portable and fluid—always growing and adapting, fusing and mingling with different times, places and people, expressing itself in new forms and stories.

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© 2023 Lara Bongard, all rights reserved

The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth, book

Lara Bongard inherited a 100 year old Shabbat tablecloth, the only surviving heirloom from the vanished world of her ancestors, with which her great-grandfather Mordko Bongard crossed the river of his shtetl in 1911 and never returned. He left his family and community, to escape the pogroms that swept the regions. Lara embarked on an extensive research into the scattered history of her family in the previous Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine). She retraced family members, collected testimonies, photographs, letters and archival material, researched Yiddish tales, symbols and mythologies — in order to reconstruct her own image of the past. The tablecloth grew into a symbol of life: sharing food with family across time, connecting East with West, the generations, and diversity of cultures we as a family represent. Gradually, dislocation became a portable home.

‘The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth’ is a multidimensional work and dynamic space of memory, in which fictional stories about the lives of her ancestors are written in conjunction with the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar, travel stories and memories, photographs and illustrations. The project contributes to generating new connecting narratives about the fluid meaning of being 'at home' in our contemporary world and reframing perspectives on multiple histories and identity.

You can purchase the book here.
17x24 cm, 240 p. American dustjacket
language: English
ISBN 9789464665178

design and editing: Lara Bongard & Lien Van Leemput for 6'56"

publisher: Art Paper Editions

Price: €30 (excl. shipping)

Edition of 750
September 2023

Book launch: LIBRERÍA TERRANOVA x Tabletimes, 2023 >>

Book launch: Kunsthal Gent x LUCA School of Arts, 2024 >>

Book launch: ROZENSTRAAT - a rose is a rose is a rose, Amsterdam, 2024 >>

The publication has been made possible with financial support from Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst, LUCA Breakout, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Stichting Niemeijer Fonds, Hendrik Muller Fonds, Stichting Stokroos, Voordekunst, and Retian Nopra Holding B.V.