Book launch – The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth by Lara Bongard

On Wednesday the 28th of February we host the book launch of ´The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth´written by Lara Bongard.


This evening Lara will be in conversation with art historian and anthropologist Anja Veirman, professor and researcher at LUCA School of Arts.


Lara Bongard inherited a 100 year old Shabbat tablecloth, the only surviving heirloom from the vanished world of her ancestors, with which her great-grandfather Mordko Bongard crossed the river of his shtetl in 1911 and never returned. He left his family and community, to escape the pogroms that swept the regions. Lara embarked on an extensive research into the scattered history of her family in the previous Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine). She retraced family members, collected testimonies, photographs, letters and archival material, researched Yiddish tales, symbols and mythologies — in order to reconstruct her own image of the past. The tablecloth grew into a symbol of life: sharing food with family across time, connecting East with West, the generations, and diversity of cultures we as a family represent. Gradually, ‘dislocation’ became a portable home.


The Girl Who Crossed the River with a Tablecloth is a multidimensional work and dynamic space of memory, in which fictional stories about the lives of her ancestors are written in conjunction with the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar, travel stories and memories, photographs and illustrations. The project contributes to generating new connecting narratives about the fluid meaning of being ‘at home’ in our contemporary world and reframing perspectives on multiple histories and identity.