Dec 8, 2022 at 7:00 pm
The Paulina Project: A Lifework
A work-in-progress presentation by Michelle Levy in conversation with Annie Berman
This event is a collaboration between The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life and UnionDocs and will take place on December 8th at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
We are happy to co-present Michelle Levy’s “experimental, performative, work-in-progress preview” of The Paulina Project: A Lifework that recently was incubated in our 2022 Summer Documentary Lab.
Levy’s unconventional engagement with different mediums of expression unites film and performance as part of a larger project of self-exploration. We are delighted that Levy will be joined in conversation with Filmmaker/Educator Annie Berman who she met in a 2022 workshop at UnionDocs on Essay-Filmmaking led by Berman with an esteemed lineup of guest instructors.
In the fall of 2018, Michelle Levy went to Poland to investigate the 1945 Holocaust testimony of a Polish-Jewish woman named Paulina. Her plans went beautifully off-track as a series of errors and coincidences led to an existential reckoning between life and death in which a promise was made. The Paulina Project: A Lifework is a film project in process born of a multi-year performance and Michelle will share its story, and how it has radically transformed her own life.
The Paulina Project film is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. It is a fiscally sponsored project of the New York Foundation of the Arts.
An identity double, a prison record, a Polish mining town, a beekeeper, an old cocoa tin, a well, are some of the elements that converged in a collision of worlds, living and dead, that created an existential reckoning. Moving between archive, verite, and performative gesture, Constellation shares two intersecting journeys. The first: artist Michelle Levy’s journey to Poland to retrace the wartime path of a Polish Jewish woman named Paulina, whose survival testimony had come into Michelle’s care. The second– a direct result of the first– revolves around Michelle’s choice to try to become a mother, on her own, long after she thought that chance had passed.
Michelle Levy is a Brooklyn-based artist and storyteller who uses performance, imagery, text, and collective engagement to investigate the mediated space between life and fiction where identity is constructed. She has presented her work in venues across New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Krakow, Szczecin, Warsaw, and Prague. For the past five years, Levy has been immersed in an evolving performance and engagement post-memory project, “Paulina,” which has received support from POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews (Warsaw), Asylum Arts (NYC), U.S. Embassy, Warsaw, The Emmanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute (Warsaw), Festivalt and the Galicia Jewish Museum (Krakow), amongst numerous other institutional partners. She is currently developing this project as a feature-length nonfiction film supported in its early phase by a grant from New York State Council on the Arts and Union Docs Early Production Lab. Levy has 18+ years of producing exhibitions and artist programs at New York City arts institutions and was the Founding Director of the EFA Project Space exhibition program and the Shift Residency for Arts Workers (at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts).
Annie Berman is a media artist living and working in New York City. Named one of Independent Magazine’s 10 Filmmakers to Watch, her films, videos, performances, and installations have shown internationally in cinemas, festivals, galleries, universities, and conferences, including the MoMA Documentary Fortnight, Camden International Film Festival, Rooftop Films, Galerie Patrick Ebensperger Berlin, Kassel Hauptbahnhof, Spring / Break Art Show, Flux Factory, Babycastles Gallery, and the Rome Independent Film Festival where she was awarded the Best Experimental Film Prize. Her work has received support from the Puffin Foundation, Wave Farm, the Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Arts, Grant for the Web, the Center for Independent Documentary, Signal Culture, LABA NYC, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and UnionDocs. She holds an MFA in Integrated Media Art from Hunter College, teaches at City College, and is a member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective.