The LAB Gallery will host a live art instillation/performance Jewish Lightnin’
June 19-20, 2012
The Lab Gallery is located on the corner of 47th St. & Lexington Ave. New York, NY.
Performance will commence at:
About the Project:
These are stories about the coming of age of one Jewish boy who was brought to the USA by his family from Soviet Ukraine when he was eight years old. These are specific stories about what it means to explore ones identity and the challenges that await along the way.
The story begins on August 11, 1989 in my great uncle, Moti’s, Glen Cove house and spans all the way to February 22, 2012, when the same boy now a man proposes to his sweetheart, Lucinda a Chinese American woman in Camp Hero, Montauk NY.
These stories address what it means to be Jewish and a Soviet immigrant in suburban Long Island. What did “Jewishness” mean to me. The family dynamics that go along with these implication and what it takes to transform an all together confusing identity experience into one that may not be limited by labels, comparisons, and hierarchies.
At its core this appears to be a story about growing up, about transcendence, and the broadening of awareness. Beyond the core it could be a continuation of the oral story telling tradition. This may be my attempt at purposeful communication; stories placed within a context.
What I’ll be doing at the Lab:
I will be telling this personal non-linear narrative from 5:30-7pm. All guests are invited to participate by picking the stories they want to hear off a menu and then asking questions as they see fit during the telling of the stories.
Please select what you would like to hear.
Our family arrives in the USA, 1989 from Soviet Ukraine to live at my great Uncles house. This is the story about promise: the promise of opportunity in a new land, the promise of one big, happy, family. The American dream as it seems to immigrants. The continuation of the long tradition of the wandering Jew. The continuation of a Diaspora.
The Last Temptation of the Bris
When I am around 11 years old my parents come to pose a question. Would I consider a religious circumcision? This is my first indoctrination into this idea of “Jewishness”. I am brought up without a religion in the house. Faithless? This story relates to tradition (Jewish tradition) vs. conformity (fitting in). Unto whom does my body belong to?
Jewish Camp in Summertime
My parents give me the opportunity to go to a lavish Jewish American Summer camp. The experience leaves me feeling alienated and upset. I feel that I am not accepted by my peers. My ideas about being different than the rest are here reinforced once again. This story speaks to an overall question, haunting me, “if these jews are not my people then which jews are, if any?”
Hanukah Celebration of Light and Puke
My family and I visit friends in Boston, for Hanukah, where I have my first real taste of the forbidden fruits of alcohol and marijuana. This story relates to an almost farcical isolation from Jewish tradition, and about pageantry, in the sense of how the holiday Hanukah is used and also the way that I try to fit in with the slightly older and seemingly cooler family friends.
Kyke Comes Full Circle
Now in high school, I still am having a hard time fitting in. There are but a few Jewish kids around, and neither I, nor them are seeking each other out for companionship. I get into a fight in which I gain the upper hand, then facing suspension, I ibrand the other boy an anti-semite. This story appears to be about the abuses of racial/religious power. This may be a subversion of tolerance in a country that prides on political correctness.
Everyone Knows, The Greeks are Anti-Semites
In College I fall in love for the first time with a Greek girl. We date for several years. Our independent family dynamics begins to wear on our “love” and relationship. Unfortunately I can only bring you one side of the story for now. This seems to be a story about the age old myth about blood being thicker than water, about old world values vs. the new cultural context.
The Mitzvah of Being the Boss
My first real professional 9-5 job. My boss and the owner of the establishment for which I work happens to be a religious Jewish man. A few months into the job he finds out that I too am Jewish, but not Bar Mitzvahed. He inquires what else I may not be. Then he tells his wife and his sons, all of whom work at the same job. Looking to do good according to his faith he gives the greatest mitzvah of all, I quit, and go on to pursue my dreams. God works in mysterious ways…
Birthright is a sponsored program for Jews to travel free to Israel, for those who have never been. I go and happen to truly connect to the Holy land as well as the doctrine, “blood is thicker than water.” I get romantically involved with a girl on the trip. Finally I’m a good Jew, making my parents and all other Jews proud. I am with my own kind and may one day make a Jewish baby. Except, there is one problem. I have to breakup with my Chinese American girlfriend who I have been living with for the past 2 years.
Spiritual Journey Recap
I am back together with my Chinese American girlfriend and it seems that if we can survive what has happened we can do anything. We plan an indefinite trip around the USA and even possibly the world in our new truck. We spend 7 months on the road traveling the USA and Canada. When we return a few months down the road, I have another self-assessment and again break-up with my girlfriend. This story seems to be the wandering, pondering, wondering Jew, looking for resolve in the lost land of paradoxes.
A 30th Birthday Surprise
After an arduous journey to a realization of what love is, I arrive at the decision that it’s time to take responsibility into my own hands and to give credit where due. I tell my parents that I will be asking my long time Asian American girlfriend to marry my. I also ask her mom and sister for permission. On my 30th birthday I plan a surprise never to be forgotten. She says… This story appears to be about the age old Jewish tradition of defying convention, asking questions, and not settling for just any answers.
Aleks Degtyarev appears to be at times a multi media artist, poet, and healer. He believes that art should have poetic, constructive functions, that help people resolve internal conflict.