“A Klug Tzu Columbus (A Curse on Columbus)”

“A Klug Tzu Columbus (A Curse on Columbus)”, an audience-participatory installation, mixed media, 40’x25’x12’, 1992.

“A Klug Tzu Columbus (A Curse on Columbus)” is a Yiddish expression that was used by Jewish immigrants in the early part of this century who were annoyed that they were not doing as well as they expected in their new country. An example of its usage would be: "a curse on Columbus for finding this godforsaken land where I have had to struggle and suffer." This installation examines the fear of ethnic and racial difference through stories about immigration, assimilation, and experiences with prejudice.

The center structure is a sacred story-telling space where people can share personal experiences with racism and anti-Semitism. The hut is made of lattices of eucalypus twigs and branches and jute twine. The floor is covered with eucalyptus and mint leaves and two clipboards solicited stories from the audience.

The hut is surrounded by 12 benches, each 8' long, in a 30'x 20' space. Text is burnt and carved into the upper surface of each bench, such as: "WHAT KIND OF NAME IS THAT?" and "YOU DON'T BELONG HERE."

Fourteen pen and ink drawings are on the walls of the space, part of larger series being developed for a bookwork entitled: YOU DON'T LOOK AMERICAN.

Text on the wall says: 1492 - The Invasion of the Americas and The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, TWO ANNIVERSIES, TWO DIASPORAS, TWO GENOCIDES, TWO FORCED ASSIMILATIONS, Who is the pariah? How is he/she chosen? Why does our current system need pariahs? What happens when a people become dislocated? What happens when a people lose their land? What happens when you're told you never had land to begin with? What happens when a people lose their cultural identity? What happens when you're told that you're belief systems are bad? What happens when a people's expectations are destroyed? What happens when a people's focus becomes material comfort? What happens when the victim becomes the victimizer?

Exhibited as part of a counter-quincentennial exhibition in a converted military barracks space at Angel's Gate Cultural Center, San Pedro, CA (1992). A workshop on racism was facilitated as part of the installation. The exhibition was coordinated within a spiritual gathering of tribal elders re-consecrating the land at Angel's Gate. The artist’s book, “What Kinda Name Is That?” emerged from this installation, commissioned by the Jewish Museum in NYC for their exhibition, TOO JEWISH: Challenging Traditional Identities in 1996. Discussed in a book by Lisa Bloom.