November 18, 2016 - The Contemporary Jewish Museum - From Generation to Generation
November 18, 2016

The Contemporary Jewish Museum

Chikako Yamashiro, Your voice came out through my throat, 2009. Video. © Chikako Yamashiro. Courtesy of Yumiko Chiba Associates.

From Generation to Generation
Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art
November 25, 2016–April 2, 2017

The Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
United States
Hours: Thursday 11am–8pm,
Friday–Tuesday 11am–5pm

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The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) presents the work of 24 contemporary artists who grapple with memories that are not their own in From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art.

Memory can take many forms: memories of events we have experienced, memories we have heard as family stories, memories seen through images in popular culture, or even memories of an imagined future. The 24 artists in From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art work with memories that are not their own. They remember and recall stories that were never theirs and assemble them in a variety of media to be shared, seen, heard, and experienced by others. It is precisely this distance in time and space that allows them to offer powerful narratives, some of which are still being written.

This exhibition expands on the groundbreaking work by Dr. Marianne Hirsch on postmemory, defined as “the relationship that the ‘generation after’ bears to the personal, collective, and cultural trauma of those who came before—to experiences they ‘remember’ only by means of the stories, images and behaviors among which they grew up. But these experiences were transmitted to them so deeply and affectively as to seem to constitute memories in their own right” (Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust, 2012). Through their work, the artists presented in this exhibition search, question, and reflect on the representation of truths related to ancestral and collective memory—ultimately attempting to make sense of and connect with their own pasts. The title of the exhibition is taken from the Hebrew idiom l’dor vador, literally translated as “from generation to generation,” meaning that one generation has a responsibility to educate the next.

The exhibition follows themes suggested by the artworks themselves, and especially the type of memories used as material. Some of the works include media imagery that depicts known historical events such as the Vietnam War or the Civil Rights movement; others memorialize lives lost during the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide. Some artists have also incorporated personal and family narratives in their work, blending together collective and ancestral memory. A final selection presents works that look at the near-present from an imagined distant future, as a way to bring awareness to our current moment which will one day be history. This exhibition is not meant to address every horror or catalytic moment of the twentieth century. Instead, the works represent a generation of artists’ investigations of their inherited pasts and an offering of encouragement that all can find meaning in those buried memories.

The artists, working in a variety of media comprising sculpture, film, photography, mixed media, and more, include: Christian Boltanski, Nao Bustamante, Binh Danh, Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Bernice Eisenstein, Eric Finzi, Nicholas Galanin, Guy Goldstein, Fotini Gouseti, Ellen Harvey, Aram Jibilian, Loli Kantor, Mike Kelley, Lisa Kokin, Ralph Lemon, Rä di Martino, Yong Soon Min, Fabio Morais, Elizabeth Moran, Vandy Rattana, Anri Sala, Wael Shawky, Hank Willis Thomas, and Chikako Yamashiro.

The exhibition is co-curated by The CJM Assistant Curator Pierre-François Galpin and Lily Siegel, Executive Director and Curator of the Greater Reston Arts Center.

The accompanying catalog includes essays from the curators, Dr. Marianne Hirsch, and Abby Smith Rumsey. It will be available for purchase in The CJM Store and online.

The Yud Video Project
Expanding on the theme of memory in From Generation to Generation, The CJM invited artists from around the world to submit their video works for display in The Museum’s soaring Stephen and Mirabelle Leavitt Yud Gallery. 25 works will be on view, November 25, 2016 to July 9, 2017.

What We HoldTeen Storytelling
In conjunction with the exhibition, The CJM’s 15 Teen Art Connect interns have developed an audio storytelling project that will be available within The Museum and through its digital channels.

Programming on-site at The Contemporary Jewish Museum (unless otherwise noted).

Inherited Memory and Art
Tuesday, November 29, 6:30pm
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission St, SF 94103

Talk: Artists on Remembering the Holocaust
Thursday, December 1, 6:30–8pm

Gallery chat: Loli Kantor on Image, Process, and Memory
Friday, December 2, 12:30–1pm

Gallery chat: Mel Gordon on Superman’s Kandor
Friday, January 6, 12:30–1pm

Performance: Poetry and Remembrance
Thursday, January 19, 7–8pm

Gallery chat: Binta Ayofemi on Afrofuturism
Friday, February 3, 12:30–1pm

Gallery chat: Duwenavue Sante Johnson on Flags
Friday, February 17, 12:30–1pm

Performance: Shanghai Angel
Thursday, February 23, 6:30–8pm and Sunday, February 26, 3pm

Gallery chat: Erik Tiemens on the Design behind Star Wars
Friday, March 24, 12:30–1pm

For more information about The Contemporary Jewish Museum, visit The Museum’s website at

For media information or visuals visit our online press gallery or please contact:

The Contemporary Jewish Museum
Melanie Samay
Associate Director of Marketing and Communications
T 415 655 7833 / msamay [​at​]

Nina Sazevich
Public relations
T 415 752 2483 / nina [​at​]


General information
The Museum is open daily (except Wednesday) 11am–5pm and Thursday, 11am–8pm. For general information on The Contemporary Jewish Museum, the public may visit The Museum’s website at or call 415 655 7800.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum
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