Jewish artist living in Montreal, Yehouda Chaki never met his grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins – they were all killed in Auschwitz. Born in 1938 in Athens, he immigrated to Israel from Greece in 1945 to settle in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was traumatized by daily broadcasts called Mi makir on Kol Israel, the national radio station, during which people could ask if anyone knows [a particular person’s name] or has information about missing family members.
The installation, Mi Makir, features indistinct portraits of victims who died in concentration camps. Each work is marked with a number in the top left corner corresponding to a real person who was exterminated. Sculptures made with books serve as reminders of the infamous burnings of books by Jewish, liberal and leftist authors who were deemed un-German by Nazi student groups (the first such burning took place nationwide on May 10, 1933). The piles on the floor also recall the shattered glass and ruins of vandalized Jewish homes and businesses as well as the synagogues that were burned by violent mobs throughout Germany during Kristallnacht, on the night of November 9, 1938. If haunting, this installation is deeply personal for the artist and a generation of Jews, and others, whose families were killed in the Holocaust, its significance and poignancy resonates with all of humanity.
Credits and curator
An exhibition organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and curated by Iris Amizlev, Community Curator, MMFA.
Yehouda Chaki: Mi Makir; A Search for the Missing was made possible thanks to the Bensadoun family, major patron of the exhibition, in collaboration with the Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal and the Azrieli Foundation.
The Museum extends its gratitude to Roslyn Margles and the Jonathan and Susan Wener family, as well as to exhibition ambassadors, the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation, the Saryl and Stephen Gross Family Foundation, Riva and Thomas O. Hecht, Sari Hornstein, Amy Weinberg and Norbert Hornstein, Joel A. and Rhoda Pinsky, Julia and Stephen F. Reitman, Irwin and Sara Tauben and Viscofan Canada.
The Museum recognizes the essential contribution of its official sponsors, Air Canada and Denalt Paints. It thanks the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications for its support, as well as the Conseil des arts de Montréal and the Canada Council for the Arts for their ongoing support.
Yehouda Chaki (born in 1938), Mi Makir: 30698, 1998-1999. Courtesy of the artist.