Sharone Lifschitz

...Lifschitz began by placing an anonymous ad in the personal section of several newspapers, moved on to e-mail exchanges over the Internet, and sometimes progressed to a face-to-face meeting, marking a trajectory from the anonymous to the personal. The material generated by this process, records of email messages and transcripts of conversations, served as the basis for a variety of installations she designed for the city of Munich. Beginning gradually, with a few snippets of text posted on a passing tram, and building to a crescendo of signs and posters pasted all over the city and around the new Jewish Museum, Speaking Germany dwindles to a few passing phrases of farewell, until it disappears altogether and remains only as a memory. Each phase of the project is named for a part of a meal‚ Aperitif, Vorspeise (appetizer), Hauptgericht (main course), and One Last Drink ‚ echoing the meals she shared as she travelled through Germany.

Lifschitz is a deft observer and a sympathetic listener. Speaking Germany works because Lifschitz is nonjudgmental; she absorbs what she hears, embraces it and discerns its context. Because she is open to whatever an encounter might bring, her work fosters a comparable openness in the observer.
German cities have become sites for memorials that either commemorate the victims of the Shoah, mark the places where Jews lived, or recall the process of eliminating Jews from German life. Many memorials are composed of texts: excerpts from Nazi decrees, victims‚Äô names, and names of concentration and extermination camps. In contrast, Speaking Germany will not be a permanent fixture in Munich ‚ it is as ephemeral as the conversations that inspired it and will endure only in the memory of the artist, of her conversation partners, and of the people who encountered Lifschitz's Munich installations...

Speaking Germany addresses both the present and future. Jews and Germans share a complex and intertwined history. Sharone Lifschitz's project, Speaking Germany, addresses the issues that bind Germans and Jews, Germans and Israelis. The relationship is inescapable; the challenge is to transform its silence into an exchange that resonates, and to bring it out into the open.

Emily D. Bilski, How can Germans and Jews speak to each other about Germany? How can we not speak about Germany?, JMM Catalogue, Prestel, 2007.

Speaking Germany, projectReturn