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Tikkun Olam

Interactive Installation (2020 – 2021)

Solo exhibition at Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim 8 November 2020 – 28 February 2021 curated by Muriel Meyer. Tikkun Olam translates roughly as to heal the world. A Jewish philosophical concept, in recent years it has been revived as a call to stand for social, economic and racial justice.

Through animation, photographs and found objects, Tikkun Olam is a walking cinema of the experience of moving to Germany as a Jewish person, the rise of Trump and facing uncomfortable questions about Israel/Palestine.

The red lace pattern is taken from my grandmother’s tablecloth.


What I found at the flea market | Was ich am Flohmarkt gefunden habe


I went to Volkshochschule to learn German

In one class there was a young man from Gaza. Of course, in my family, we had never spoken about Israel or Palestine. He was studying public health. His thesis was on services for children with cerebral palsy in Gaza. We had an immediate bond. That’s one of the things about disability – it can cut across traditional lines of nationality, race, class and religion. His niece has cerebral palsy. My sister also has cerebral palsy.

I want to show you the first film I ever made, with Bruce Jackson. He also has cerebral palsy.

Meine bosnischen Freunde brachten mich zu Stätten der umstrittenen Erinnerung

My Bosnian friends took me to sites of contested memory.


Sometimes it isn’t right to take a photograph.

Please take a breath,
In + out
Feet slightly apart. Find your center
Another breath and if you are willing
Let your eyes close and listen.
I have a story I want to tell you

One summer day in 2015 my phone exploded
They are here!

Old people, babies, all out in the hot sun. My apartment is a 5 minute walk from the government building where the refugees go to register.
I buy fruit, bubbles and colored markers for the children. My neighbors and I become a great river, pouring out of the buildings. Through the streets we flow into the government courtyard. It is already filled with people sitting on the rough ground. I’m nervous and give away everything I have too quickly.
There is a small building where suplies are being gathered and organized. We carry the boxes of food outside – would you like an orange? Some bread? Water? In my memory it is quiet. Everyone is very focused. How bad does it have to be that one would leave their homeland?

A man in the courtyard begins to sing

No one tells us what to do. We know what to do.
We keep our head down and do the work. We will re-make the world as it could be. At least for today, we have found a way to do our part.

You can open your eyes now.
Thank you for listening.


7 Verbotende Wörter | 7 Forbidden Words

Sieben Worte, die das Gesundheitsministerium nach Meinung der Trump-Administration nicht verwenden soll.
Seven words the Trump administration doesn’t want the CDC to use

  • 1863 scarred back of Gordon who escaped slavery.
  • 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee.
  • 1968 My Lai massacre, Vietnam.
  • 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act
  • 1921 Blair Mountain. Striking miners bombed from planes.
  • 1954 US supported coup against democratically elected president of Guatemala leads to widespread massacres.
  • 1942-6 Japanese internment camps
  • 1916 Lynching of Jesse Washington. Postcard quote: This is the barbeque we had last night.
  • 2009 abortion protestor at clinic of Dr. George Tiller who was shot, fire bombed + ultimately murdered.
  • 1980 Man w an Uzi kills 2 men + injures many others shouting I'll kill them all - the gays - they ruin everything.
  • 1914 Ludlow Massacre. State national guard + company goons attack tent village of striking miners. Among many others, 11 children asphyxiated + burned to death
  • September 11, 1973 CIA supported coup of democratically elected President Allende of Chile.
  • "More African American adults are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850" Michelle Alexander (read The New Jim Crow)
  • 2003 Smiling American faces at Abu Ghraib
  • 1938 Father Coughlin, with up to 30 million weekly listeners: When we get through with the Jews in America, they will think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing.
  • 1932-72 Tuskegee syphilis experiment on African American men + their families.
  • 1993 Jerry Falwell says: AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals.
  • 2014 Young man kills 6 and says: My war on women...I am the true victim in all this.
  • 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire takes the lives of 146 young garment workers, most of them immigrant women and girls. Owner says: I had a right to protect my property.
  • Roy Cohn. Prodigious use of red + lavender scare tactics. Known for his role in Rosenberg trial, working w McCarthy + representing Trump. Disbarred.
  • 1955 Emmett Till, 14 years old. One of his murderers: I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, niggers are gonna stay in their place.
  • 1891 largest mass lynching in US history. 11 Italian men in New Orleans. Call to violence states:...the descendants of bandits and assassins...are to us a pest without mitigation.
  • 1988 Couple shot 8 times while camping. Shooter claimed he was outraged by seeing them have sex when he followed + spied on them. Rebecca Wight perished.
  • 1957 Little Rock, National Guard block African American students from integrating high school
  • 1830 Andrew Jackson signs the Indian Removal Act: What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive republic...
  • 1956-? What do Viola Liuzzo, Charlie Chaplin + Martin Luther King jr. have in common?? COINTELPRO !!
  • 1991 Footprints on the locked door where workers tried to escape the Hamlet chicken processing plant fire. 25 perished.
  • 1995 Timothy McVeigh kills 168 people by blowing up a federal building w a daycare center in Oklahoma City. He says: I strongly believe in a god given right to self defense.
  • 1860 Pemberton Mill collapse + fire kills 145 due to shoddy building materials and over crowded heavy equipment.
  • 2016 Khalid Jabara murdered after calling 911 twice that day about neighbor who was out on bail for having run over Jabara's mother. Murderer says: Fuck you Arabs... I want to kill you all
  • 1963 Four little girls killed by a bomb set off at their church by the KKK
  • 1969 visionary Black Panther Fred Hampton assassinated by Chicago police
  • 2014 Eric Garner says:I can't breathe 11 times before he is killed by the NYPD. Who is in jail? The guy who filmed the violence.
  • 1939 MS St Louis set sail from Germany with 908 Jewish refugees. Turned away from Cuba, US and Canada most were returned to Europe + perished
  • 1970 just 11 days after Kent State, police fire on protesting Jackson State students killing two
  • 1855 Protestant nativist Know Nothing (American) Party members riot against Irish + German immigrants on election day. 22 killed
  • 1917 1300 striking mine workers + supporters kidnapped + deported in Brisbee, AZ
  • 1954 Yes there was an Operation Wetback. Papers? No papers? Didn't matter. 1.5 million deported to Mexico.
  • Terrorism. 3 women murdered every day by a current or former male partner in the US. Photo by Donna Ferrato
  • 1919 Elaine Massacre one of the deadliest racial conflicts in US history.
  • 1968 Nixon + Kissinger sabotage Paris peace talks to win the election. Thousands die as a result.
  • Legal forced sterilization as recently as 2010 of people deemed undesirable because of mental or physical disability, poverty or race.
  • 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster 132,000,000 gallons of mining waste water floods, killing 125 + displacing over 4000.
  • 1968-2011 ~1.4 million people killed by guns in the US. Rebecca Solnit based on the work of TM Luhrmann: ...when schizophrenics hear voices in India, they're more likely to be told to clean the house, while Americans are more likely to be told to become violent. Culture.
  • 1950 - ? What do Paul Robeson, Daniel Ellsberg + Chelsea Manning all have in common? The McCarran Act of course!
  • 1926 KKK march on Washington. At its peak the Ku Klux Klan had over 4 million members
  • 2015 Dylann Roof murders 9 people in a Charleston Church and claims: we have no skinheads no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.
  • 1965 Selma. Beaten to unconsciousness for marching for the right to vote. Thank you John Lewis. Thank you Amelia Bonyon Robinson
  • 2002 “Please don't. I have a family” last words of 17 year old Gwen Araujo. At trial the defense claim gay/trans panic on behalf of her murderers.
  • 2010 Prior to the ACA (Obamacare), the US had the most expensive, least effective medical care of Western industrialized nations with an estimated 45,000 people dying each year from lack of healthcare. Medical bills are the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
  • 1945 US drops atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing between 129,000 and 206,000 people.
  • 2017 the black hole of neediness becomes president.



In the summer of 2014 Israel was bombing Gaza + I worried about my VHS friend + his family. I made a naive attempt. I organized a brunch for my friend from Gaza and I also invited my Bosnian friends.

Eat! Eat! I was circling the table serving too much food, desperate to make it better for him. We gesture and smile through a Skype with his family.
– We are all together
– We heart your son
Complete hysteria, rarely letting our friend from Gaza even speak. Throughout the meal the Bosnian man, wounded in Sarajevo, remained quiet, apart. Finally, he looked my VHS friend in the eye and said

You’ve lost your country.
I lost my country too.
But we’re here and we’re going to be OK.

Nobody said anything more for a very long time.
Now I will show you what I made after


Pandemic Postcards

Vielleicht habe auch ich mein Land verloren

Perhaps I have lost my country too

Tikkun Olam

When my grandmother was in her 90s we took her to the Holocaust museum in Washington DC. She sat huddled and silent in a wheelchair. We were pushing her through a hall marked with the names of Jewish communities that no longer exist.
Suddenly her arm shot out.
There! She called out pointing to the name of a small village. That is where we come from!

Kalvarija, Lithuania

After living in Germany for most of a decade, I’ve learned that I have to be rigorous about remaining in the present when I consider the past. I’ve learned that cruelty or even genocide is easier than I thought. All it takes is an information bubble and someone designated as an other. People fall for it with breath taking speed and do unimaginably horrible things. I’ve learned that I have to practice if I want to be brave.

Tikkun Olam, our opportunity to heal the world during our short time here.

Thank you for being here.​