Between Dreams and History













Opening Party October 22, 1998
(Rain Date October 24, 1998)

Between Dreams and History Live Letter from Creative Time
15 September 1998

In the spring of 1996, after living in Berlin for five years and receiving acclaim for numerous public art projects throughout Europe, Shimon Attie set his sights on New York. It made perfect sense that for a presenting partner he chose Creative Time, an organization widely recognized as a leader in bringing experimental art to the public realm. Upon seeing Attie's work, our team was struck by its visual force and the thoughtful way in which it explored relationships between site, memory and identity. His haunting art made the forgotten again visible. Attie himself described it as a "peeling back the wallpaper of today to reveal the histories buried underneath." Without hesitation, Creative Time invited the artist to develop his first site-specific project in the United States.

Shimon Attie found his inspiration in the Lower East Side, a focal point for the realities and mythologies of American immigration. Here he hoped to capture a compelling picture of the neighborhood's rich cultural fabric and provide a visual record of its current evolution. The Lower East Side also provided another special opportunity: Unlike Europe, where the artist had to rely on archival research to trace Jewish heritage, here he had an opportunity to record living memories.

For months the artist scouted sites, documented neighborhood architecture, and researched the history of each block. He then asked Lower East Side residents to write down their recollections of the neighborhood, their experiences with other immigrant groups, and their childhood memories. From these handwritten passages, Shimon wove together a poetic text that moves seamlessly between dreams and reality.

Collaborating with Norman Ballard, an artist and renowned technology expert, laser lights have been choreographed to inscribe neighborhood buildings with these words at night. As visitors walk down neighborhood streets, they will encounter the ghostly lasers as they write out each text onto building facades, letter by letter, echoing how memory unfolds with each retelling. In such a way neighborhood architecture is imbued with "personality" and human experience while individual histories are made public for brief moments in time.

More than two years in the making, Between Dreams and History has come to life through the commitment of hundreds of people who believe in the power of art to transform and inspire. In particular, we are grateful for the partnership of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and to those individuals who generously opened their homes for the staging of this project. We are thankful to our visionary funders for insuring that Shimon's dreams would become reality. And I am most sincerely indebted to Norman Ballard, our technical team, and the Creative Time staff, all of whom have worked devotedly on this project.

I am joined by Creative Time's Board and staff in expressing our deepest appreciation to Shimon Attie. He has shared with us his extraordinary talents, helping Creative Time further its twenty-five year tradition of bringing adventurous art to the public realm.

Anne Pasternak
Executive Director

Shimon Attie's Between Dreams and History Presented by Creative Time
October 22 - November 14, 1998
Wednesday - Saturday, 6PM-12AM
At the Intersection of Ludlow and Rivington Streets
(Except during heavy rain)

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©1998 Creative Time