Commissioned by Kaunas 2022, European Capital of Culture. A project of Kaunas ‘Memory Office’ and the ‘City Telling Festival’ in partnership with Kaunas Jewish Community
Sculptural installation and guided tour. Multiple sites across the city of Kaunas.
Fluorescent live-edge Plexiglas, mirrored steel, wood.
Each sculpture 20cm (L) x3cm (W) x5cm(D)
Threshold is a sculpture project and guided tour inspired by the mezuzah, a small ritual object commonly fixed to the doorways of Jewish homes and businesses. A mezuzah contains a sacred scroll and marks the human passage between private/sacred and public/secular space. It is a mark of spiritual connection and belonging and a visual reminder to uphold good values in life. Kaunas was once home to a large Jewish population of 40,000 and the mezuzah was a common sight on city buildings. Since the Holocaust the mezuzah has disappeared without trace – along with the people. The Threshold project re-introduces the language of mezuzah to Kaunas streets. I have designed a small sculpture echoing the mezuzah form but with the scroll replaced by a mirror, inviting reflection for all. City buildings once connected to Jewish life were researched with local collaborator Karina Zidokaite and their current residents and businesses invited to host a Threshold sculpture at their doorway. Thus, each Threshold represents a conversation about the Jewish people who once lived or worked there. It is only through the hosts’ participation that the project is made possible. Made from traditional and futuristic materials each Threshold holds a light for a former Jewish resident whilst also considering the universal gift of ‘mezuzah’ – a challenge to be mindful of our values and behaviour both in public and private.
‘Threshold takes a specific form from a particular historic context and interprets it into the contemporary moment in a way that gathers general and universal relevance. Jyll Bradley’s artwork may appear modest but it contains the considerable ambition to project the experience of a piece of Kaunas’ past in a way that could influence Europe’s future history.’
Lewis Biggs, Independent Curator.
Threshold was launched with a guided tour of the buildings and their human stories written by myself and Karina Zidokaite. This is now available as a map and audio guide:
Image credits: Kaunas 2022, Gražvydas Jovaiša; Lithuanian Stories.