Odessa / Оде́сса: Babel, Ladyzhensky and the Soul of a City
From its founding in the 18th century, Odessa was to be a new kind of imperial city: an economic crossroads, orderly and modern in its sensibilities. Yet, the port city’s location on the edge of the Russian Empire lent Odessa the feeling of a frontier town – an El Dorado on the Black Sea, swarming with gangsters, fortune hunters and pleasure seekers. It was also a crucible of Russian and Jewish culture, and an important breeding ground for Jewish literature, art and politics.
This exhibition pairs two Odessans: the writer Isaac Babel and the artist Yefim Ladyzhensky. Both feature their hometown in their work and interpret the broader world through an Odessan lens. This pairing of the writer’s texts with the artist’s imagery, together with a range of contemporary film and period music, brings to life Odessa at the beginning of the Soviet Union – from its bustling commercial street life and colorful underworld to its radical political landscape and violent revolutionary conflict.
Featuring over fifty of Ladyzhensky’s vivid paintings and drawings – many exhibited for the first time, Babel’s powerful words, and a selection of related complementary video and sound installations, Odessa / Оде́сса captures the rich cultural landscape of a remarkable city on the edge of revolution.
Odessa / Одесса is made possible through the generous support of The David Berg Foundation and by patrons and friends of Yeshiva University Museum. Additional support has been provided by the New York State Council on the Arts