The Edut Project is a physical and online museum exhibition of life-sized paintings and intimate video conversations of Holocaust survivors. The project strives to honor each survivor’s story.
In 2014, David Kassan turned his attention to painting and documenting Survivors of the Holocaust, with the development of the Edut project — edut being Hebrew for “living witnesses” — as a way of connecting with his grandfather’s traumatic history of escaping ethnic cleansing on the border of Romania and Ukraine to come to America in 1917.
The purposes of the project are manifold. It aims to document firsthand the stories of the ever-shrinking number of survivors of the Holocaust, or Shoah. By exploring the entire lives of these survivors, from before World War II to the present day, it tells stories of perseverance and of life in America from the postwar period to the 21st century.
“The whole idea is really to think about putting a personal face on the Holocaust, because people have become so indifferent,” Kassan says. “It’s an abstract idea, because people no longer come into contact with survivors.” The project is also an opportunity for the artist to better appreciate an aspect of his own family’s history. In 1917, when he was about five years old, Kassan’s grandfather escaped ethnic cleansing on the border of Ukraine and Romania.
While many survivors have already told their stories on video (as in the Visual History Archive developed by the USC Shoah Foundation) or in memoirs, Kassan believes that painting offers viewers a different kind of connection to the survivors, one that puts a personal face to the sometimes abstract idea of the Holocaust.
In 2017, David Kassan partnered with the USC Shoah Foundation and the USC Fisher Museum of Art to develop the Edut project in the Resilience Exhibition, which will open at the Fisher Museum in the fall of 2019 in Los Angeles.
This project is completely donation based, and those willing to help out can either make a tax deductible donation through FracturedAtlas.org or can follow along via http://patreon.com/davidkassan (not tax deductible).
The inaugural museum exhibition, “The Resilience Exhibition,” will open in September 2019 at the Fisher Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California, and will travel to other museums around the country.