Czech Center Museum Houston Welcomes the Vedem Underground Project

Czech Center Museum Houston Welcomes the Vedem Underground Project

The Vedem Underground Project is proud to present VEDEM: THE UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE OF THE TEREZIN GHETTO at the Czech Center Museum Houston from Aug. 14 through Nov. 30, 2017. Called "the Dead Poets Society of Terezin" by Los Angeles's Jewish Journal, VEDEM: THE UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE OF THE TEREZIN GHETTO is an art installation that deconstructs and reinterprets the literary work of the teenage Jewish creators of the longest-running underground magazine in a Nazi camp. From 1942 to 1944, Vedem ("In the Lead" in Czech) chronicled life within the walls of Czechoslovakia's Terezin Ghetto, and was a symbol of protest, rebellion and creative activism by some of the era's youngest resistance fighters. The exhibit premiered at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles in 2016, and has since been presented in Houston, El Paso, Austin and Sacramento. It is scheduled to travel to at least ten additional U.S. locations, including San Antonio, Amarillo, Dallas, Milwaukee, Portland, Oregon, and St. Petersburg, Florida by 2019. Additionally, a Vedem illustration will be taken into space in 2018 by NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel as a tribute to the courage of the magazine's creators.

Using a combination of pop-art graphics, archival photographs and cartoons, and the prose and poetry created by the magazine's contributors, VEDEM: THE UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE OF THE TEREZIN GHETTO celebrates the artistic and cultural legacy of Vedem by breaking down its 83 weekly issues totaling the 800 pages, then reconstructing them in the form of a contemporary magazine.

VEDEM: THE UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE OF THE TEREZIN GHETTOwas produced and curated by Rina King, whose grandfather led the resistance at Lithuania's Kovno Ghetto and who is also co-writing the companion book Vedem Underground: Pages of Resistance and producing the Vedem Underground documentary film with an Oscar- and Emmyaward winning team; Los Angeles-based art director Michael Murphy, who conceptualized the exhibit as a merging of punk subculture-inspired art and the 1940s-era 'zine aesthetic; and Los Angeles-based writer and journalist Danny King, who is producing and co-writing the companion book.

As a tribute to the Vedem creators' fearlessness and spirit of exploration, NASA astronaut Andrew Feustel will bring an illustration from the magazine into space when he begins his mission as commander at the International Space Station in March 2018.

"These children came together in the most dire circumstances, and continued to hope for the future of all humankind," said Feustel. "Our missions are carried out for the betterment of humankind through space research and exploration."

"It's been an honor to showcase the incredibly courageous and creative work by some of the youngest resistance fighters of the World War II era," said Rina King. "These teenage boys refused to give up their identity, their humanity and their fighting spirit."

"I was motivated to combine the feel of a 1940s-era 'zine with something that would be more relatable today, especially to younger people," said Murphy. "These boys were rebels, so I took a more contemporary, almost punk-rock approach."

"These boys were risking their lives in order to do this and they used nicknames to hide their identities," said Danny King. "Vedem reflected the stark reality of life inside Terezin, but it was also an escape for them. They expressed their opinions with humor, cartoons and poetry. They could forget that they were in prison."

VEDEM: THE UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE OF THE TEREZIN GHETTO was the winner of the 2016 WORD Grant: The Bruce Geller Memorial Prize, a project of American Jewish University's Institute for Jewish Creativity. The exhibit has also been generously supported by the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles. Other support for the project comes from Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation and The Ziering Foundation.

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