Another rich month for the festival, with a diverse line-up of film screenings, discussions, performances and exhibitions. These include a powerful display of anti-fascist photomontages by John Heartfield; a Josef Herman exhibition, which brings together works that have not been seen in public since the 1950s; a concert by Ensemble Émigré; and the much-anticipated premiere of the Ballad of the Cosmo Café, which recreates this iconic meeting-place in Finchley Road, north west London – a favourite haunt of Sigmund Freud, among many other refugees from Nazi Europe.
John Heartfield: One Man’s War
1 November – 1 February
Four Corners Gallery, London
An exhibition of prints by the renowned photomontage artist John Heartfield. A pioneer of German agitprop and an early member of the Berlin Dada group, Heartfield is known as the inventor of political photomontage. Thirty-three of Heartfield’s scathingly satirical artworks against war, fascism and the Third Reich will be on display.
This set of anti-Nazi photomontages was recently rediscovered in its original crumbling box in Liverpool John Moores University Library Archives. The exhibition will also display material produced by Heartfield during his time as a refugee in England between 1938 and 1950.
Mendelsohn’s De La Warr Pavilion: Tour & Talk
3 November 11:00am
De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea
This is a special extended tour with a talk by Graham Whitham on Erich Mendelsohn’s life and legacy. A refugee from Hitler’s Germany, Erich Mendelsohn had already established an international reputation when he won the commission led by the 9th Earl De La Warr to design a new Pavilion for Bexhill.
Insiders/Outsiders: The Concert performed by Ensemble Émigré
10 November, at 7.30pm, pre-concert talk at 6.30pm
New North London Synagogue, London
For this concert, Ensemble ÉMIGRÉ, based at the Royal College of Music, and part of Singing a Song in a Foreign Land, will work with the community at the New North London Synagogue to celebrate the contribution of refugees from Nazi Europe to British culture through music.
Chamber music and songs by Hans Gál, Egon Wellesz, Franz Reizenstein, Walter Bergmann, Robert Kahn and Karl Rankl will be interspersed with testimony from former refugees and their descendants chosen by Shirli Gilbert. With Gemma Rosefield (cello), Norbert Meyn (tenor/director), Simon Wallfisch (baritone), Ashley Solomon (flute) and others.
Making Theatre in Exile
14 November, 8.30pm
The Hampstead Jazz Club, Duke of Hamilton Pub, 23-25 New End Road, London
Delving into a suitcase full of sketches, songs and letters, the theatre group [Foreign Affairs] brings to life the little-known story of the Laterndl Theatre in Hampstead, established by a group of exiled actors and writers from Nazi-occupied Austria during the Second World War. Rekindling the Viennese tradition of political cabaret, they reflect on their new surroundings and hopes for the future and bring a beacon of light to the 30,000-strong traumatised refugee community. The Laterndl received wide critical acclaim and soon came to symbolise the community’s resistance to Nazi terror and assertion of an independent Austrian identity and culture.
Performed in the original German and English.
Josef Herman: Journey
15 November to 1 February
Flowers Gallery, London
The first major exhibition for many years to trace the complex life journey of Polish-Jewish artist Josef Herman (1911-2000), from his escape from Nazi-occupied Europe in 1940 through his time spent in Glasgow, South Wales, London and Suffolk.
Herman consistently drew his major inspiration from working communities in harmony with their surroundings, of miners, farmers and fishermen among others, and remains best known for his images of miners in the Swansea Valley. By 1990 he had been awarded an OBE and made a Royal Academician. This exhibition brings together many key works from private collections that have not been seen in public since the 1950s.
The Ballad of the Cosmo Café
16 and 17 November
St Peter’s Church Hall, London
Conceived and directed by Pamela Howard, OBE, this imagined immersive ‘singspiel’ recreates the much-loved Cosmo Café in London’s Finchley Road.
Audiences will enter the Cosmo Café as customers, sit at the vacant tables and the performance will begin. Eight of UK’s finest senior performers tell their stories in speech and song.
The Ballad of the Cosmo Café is set to music by collaborators from Royal College of Music and supported and produced by students and Cosmo collaborators from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Photographs in Print
18 November, 7pm
Hungarian Cultural Centre, London
British photography in print owes a huge debt to two Hungarian immigrants. The founding editor of the influential photojournalist magazine Picture Post (1938-57) was Stefan (István) Lorant. The founding owner of Focal Press, the world’s largest publisher of film and photography books (1938-today), was Andor Kraszna-Krausz.
This panel discussion about these influential pioneers brings together Jane Dorner, author of the definitive chapter about Kraszna-Krausz in the journal Logos; Amanda Hopkinson, daughter of Sir Tom Hopkinson – Lorant’s deputy and later editor of Picture Post; and in the chair, Colin Ford, ex-chair of the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation and curator of the Royal Academy’s 2011 exhibition of Hungarian photography in the 20th century, Eyewitness.
Jacques & Jacqueline Groag
21 November 6:30 pm
Isokon Gallery, Lawn Road, London
Jacques Groag (1892–1962) was a prominent architect and interior designer, originally from Moravia, now in the Czech Republic, but later living in Vienna. His wife was the textile designer Jacqueline Groag (1903-1986), born Hilde Pick in Prague, who had trained under Josef Hoffmann. They moved into Lawn Road Flats in 1939 after first fleeing the Anschluss of Austria in 1938 and then the annexation of Czechoslovakia in 1939.
In Britain, Jacques worked on the Utility Furniture program under Sir Gordon Russell, was the main exhibition designer for the 1946 Britain Can Make It exhibition at the V&A, and worked with his wife on the 1951 Festival of Britain, but he never designed another building again after arriving in Britain. His wife on the other hand was the most successful British textile designer of the postwar era, only equalled by Lucienne Day. Jacqueline was made an RDI (Royal Designer for Industry) in 1984, two years before her death.
Ursula Prokop is a doctor of history and art at the University of Vienna, and the author of the recently published book Jacques and Jacqueline Groag, Architect and Designer: Two Hidden Figures of the Viennese Modern Movement. She will be joined in conversation with Tel Aviv architect Shmuel Groag, Jacques and Jacqueline’s great-nephew.
Summit Dance Theatre & Ali Curtis-Jones
21 November 7:30 pm
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London
Summit Dance Theatre and choreographer Alison Curtis‑Jones give two works by Rudolf Laban a contemporary twist and new lease of life. Curtis-Jones re-imagines Laban’s work to create a new living archive, reinvigorating Laban’s principles and archeo-choreological research. Drumstick, the rhythm of the body made audible, sees Summit DT dancers determine rhythmic phrasing of movement live on stage with musicians composing the sound score in real time, responding to what they see. The second work, Nacht is a political satire depicting the underbelly of Berlin’s Weimar period and the love of dollars, deceit and depravity.
25 November 7:30 pm
JW3, 341-351 Finchley Road, London
Screening of a new film about artist and holocaust survivor Roman Halter, followed by a Q&A.
“Promise me” said the dying grandfather to the 12-year-old boy “that when you survive you will tell the whole world what was done to us.” The film ‘The Promise’ is Roman Halter’s answer to his pleading grandfather. Working in collaboration with the award winning film makers Fred Scott ‘The Promise’ is an extraordinary story: of commitment to a promise, of personal courage and of the power of art to convey a deeper understanding of history and human loss. Roman survived the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz and Stutthof camps and after the war he settled in London and became a prominent artist whose works are displayed in London’s major galleries including the Tate and the National Gallery.
He used his paintings, drawings and stained glass work to convey the terrors of the Nazi ‘Final Solution.’ Roman Halter died in 2012. This film is his extraordinary story and an enduring testament to the evils of anti-Semitism and totalitarianism.
Q&A with Ardyn Halter (Roman’s son), Fred Scott and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.