Mel Bochner - The Joys of Yiddish
The bright yellow uppercase characters of The Joys of Yiddish spell out well-known Yiddish terms against a black background, making reference to the identifying stars Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis. The installation belongs to a powerful body of work inaugurated in 2006 that centres around words and phrases found in Leo Rosten’s 1968 compendium of the same name. Growing up in an observant household in which Yiddish was regularly spoken, Bochner developed an interest in the assimilation of the language into the American English vernacular. Through Jewish comedians of the 1950s Yiddish became a familiar part of the American discourse. Yet the light-hearted resonance so often associated with the Yiddish language masks a deeper and darker cultural significance that speaks of the survival of a persecuted people.