Name Amon First

Mel Bochner - Hors les Murs

The Joys of Yiddish, 2017

Inkjet on banner
83 x 1102 inches
Simon Lee, London, Hong Kong, New York
Mel Bochner was born in 1940 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He Lives and works in New York. Throughout his career Bochner has explored the intersection of linguistic and visual representation. With its focus on text and interpretation, his work uses language as both a form of pictorial expression and philosophical speculation. 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.

Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery, © Mel Bochner

KVETCHER: Chronic complainer
NUDZH: Pesterer
MESHUGENER: Crazy Person
ALTER KOCKER: Cranky Old Man
PISHER: Someone who pees in his pants
PLOSHER: Blowhard
PLATKE-MACHER: Troublemaker

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