A little self-promotion . . .
Voor Nederlands, klik hier.
My latest project, SARRA, YELLOW VEIL, will go on show this coming Sunday (6-19).
The exhibition will run from June 19th through to August 7th 2022
at The Amsterdam Picture Room, Tweede Laurierdwarsstraat 53 h, 1016 RA Amsterdam
opening hours: Saturdays and Sundays 1 – 5 pm, and by appointment.
You can read more about Sarra here, but let me give you some background information about the project and how it came about:
Three years ago, while preparing a month-long stay in Venice, I came across the story of Sarra Coppia Sulam, the poetess, musician, salonnière who lived in the Venetian Ghetto during the early 17th century. I immediately knew she would be the subject of a photo series.
But it took time. While I was there, other stories drew my attention; I got caught in the devastating flood (check out this post) – then there was a small issue with a pandemic, but now it is done! Sarra’s on the walls!
Wonderful Dutch actress Nyncke Beekhuyzen volunteered to be my Sarra, thinking along with me, coming up with invaluable ideas, giving me lots of her time in between rehearsals, performances, filming, and her young family.
My research led me to an amazing, very comprehensive book about Sarra by professor Don Harran. Unfortunately he is no longer with us, but I want to thank him posthumously – I couldn’t have done it without his book.
I concentrated on the fascinating correspondence Sarra had with Ansaldo Cebà, a Genovese monk thirty years her senior, that lasted four-and-a-half years and became decidedly steamy. All that time he tried to convert her to Christianity, she steadfastly refused to give up her Jewish faith. They told each other off, but they also exchanged poetry and wrote songs for each other like turtledoves.
Now here’s the thing: he copied all of his letters to her before sending them, but he lost – threw away? – her letters to him . . . and after they stopped communicating, a few months before his death, he had his letters published. (Which apparently was not an uncommon thing then.)
Reading up on Sarra, picturing her life, designing and sewing her clothes, I became so curious about her letters, that I decided to write them. We had crept under each others’ skin, anyway – I figured I might as well. And of course I had Nyncke to read them – she did so beautifully. So now Sarra graces the walls and her voice fills the room.
The title, by the way, refers to the fact that for the women of the Ghetto it was mandatory to wear a yellow veil – the men had to wear yellow hats. God forbid you’d meet a Jew without knowing it! The ghetto had three entrances – bridges – that were guarded by soldiers and only opened between sunrise and sunset. If you were outside after hours you’d face quite severe punishment.
There’s much more to tell about Sarra, but I really hope you can come and meet her if you are in Amsterdam this summer! By all means get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to hear from you.