Re-Installation: Mel Bochner “The Joys of Yiddish”

Written by Haus der Kunst,

Mel Bochner’s word chain “The Joys of Yiddish” (2006) is displayed on the cornice of Haus der Kunst. The Re-Installation is now permantently on view.

Bochner’s work consist of colloquial Yiddish terms, such as KIBBITZER, KVETCHER, NUDNICK, NEBBISH, NUDZH, MESHUGENER, ALTER KOCKER, PISHER, PLOSHER, PLATKE-MACHER(wise guy; chronic complainer; nag; sad sack; pesterer; crazy man; crotchety old man; callow person; blowhard; troublemaker), which convey a particular humor that survived the National Socialist regime, despite all odds. The banner’s colors, yellow on black, are reminiscent of the armbands and badges introduced by the National Socialists to stigmatize the Jewish population.

Mel Bochner has been familiar with Munich since his 1969 exhibition “Measurement Room” at Galerie Heiner Friedrich, and “The Joys of Yiddish” was presented on the façade of Haus der Kunst in the context of the 2013 exhibition “Mel Bochner: When the Color Changes.” In a recent conversation with artistic director Andrea Lissoni, Bochner commented that, at the time, there had been very little response to the installation in Munich. The artist saw this silence as an indication that the city was not yet able to face its own history. Now, once again, the word chain will be on view, this time above the terrace facing the English Garden, a place of encounters, a place where “people are less concerned about not being run over by cars” (Mel Bochner).

Following Franz Erhard Walther’s façade installation “Anwesenheit” (“Presence”, 2020) with this re-installation of Bochner’s work, Andrea Lissoni reiterates the emphasis on the transitional space between in- and exterior. The expressive work prompts the question as to what extent public perception has changed since 2013.

Our artistic director Andrea Lissoni talked to the artist Mel Bochner. The recording of the conversation can be found here.