JDC Art Circle invites you to start 2018 with a private viewing of Yakov’s Children, a monumental installation by the renowned photographer, Gilles Peress at the Meislin Projects Gallery in NYC. We will be joined by Lisa Usdan, Peress’s Studio Director of over 22 years. Ms. Usdan played an instrumental role in mining the JDC Archives for foundation material that became Yakov’s Children.

In 1998 the Joint Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) invited Gilles Peress to create a body of work using materials in the JDC archive.  With the permission of the JDC, Peress drew from the archival texts, photographs and other materials he found to build three interlocking narratives that helped him intellectually and emotionally grapple with the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s.  The resulting installation, Yakov’s Children, consists of three oversized volumes – each over six feet wide when opened – that were first exhibited in TO THE RESCUE: Eight Artists in an Archive at the International Center for Photography (New York, 1999) before travelling to the Miami Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco) and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Yakov’s Children (the name comes from Malamud’s The Fixer) is designed to provoke and reflect engagement with the process of learning and trying to understand the period immediately before World War II – or any period of inexplicable and mounting terror. By insisting that the volumes in the installation be handled by thousands of people, the work questions how archives come to be and the role that human touch and personal history play in an object’s accretion of meaning.  -meislinprojects.com

JDC’s Art Circle brings together a group of art lovers and philanthropists to view some of the most exclusive collections in New York City. Art Circle members have insider opportunities to visit private collections, tour unique studios, and become stakeholders in JDC’s life-saving humanitarian work around the globe.

Art Circle members make an annual gift of $1800 to help JDC use art to address humanitarian issues around the globe.

Guests of the Art Circle are asked to make a $500 donation for their one time event attendance. Make your event related gift here.

About the Artist

Gilles Peress is widely recognized as one of the most innovative and influential photographers of our time. In a series of interrelated projects stretching over nearly 40 years, he has consistently interrogated the structure of history and the nature of intolerance, pushing the formal and conceptual possibilities and limits of photography.

In the early 1980s Peress’s seminal book Telex Iran reset expectations for how photography could engage with a historical event like the Iranian Revolution. The writer Susie Linfield states in her book The Cruel Radiance, “The postmoderns and poststructuralists saw themselves as the heirs of Walter Benjamin, but his dialectical imagination eluded them: they never grasped his way of seeing. They could not understand that a photograph is objective and subjective, found and made, dead and alive, withholding and revealing…..But Peress could. His genius has been to accomplish just what the postmoderns couldn’t: to incorporate a critique of photography’s objectivity into that obstinate bit of bourgeois folklore formerly known as truth. He embraces postmodern skepticism, but uses it to enlarge photographic possibilities rather than to discredit the medium.”

Of the forthcoming book Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, a 22 semi-fictional days (1000 pages) narrative about life in Northern Ireland mainly during the 80s, Peter Galassi, Chief Curator of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, described Peress’s body of work as having “the gripping immediacy and epic sweep of a novel by Tolstoy.”

Gilles Peress is included in major public and private collections throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the National Gallery, Washington, D.C; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Musée d’Art Moderne, and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Fotomuseum Winterthur and Musée de l’Élysée, Switzerland; and the Museum Folkwang, Germany, amongst others.

Peress has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Erich Solomon Prize, multiple National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Pollock-Krasner Grant, the New York State Council of the Arts Fellowship and multiple International Center for Photography Infinity Awards.

Peress is Professor of Human Rights and Photography at Bard College, NY and Senior Research Fellow at the Human Rights Center, UC Berkeley.

For questions about this event or joining the JDC Art Circle, contact JDC Ambassadors at ambassadors@JDC.org