Ticket to the New World in New York

CNT’s Ticket to the New World project had a successful overseas premiere in June at the Bohemian National Hall in Manhattan. The entire program was prepared with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library Foundation, Dvorak Heritage Association and SVU New York. The main events took place as part of the well-known Rehearsal for Truth festival, which is organized annually by the VHLF.

On June 14 an exhibition of artwork opened featuring five of the 16 artists included in the project. Amongst them were photographs by Alexander Hammid and Bedřich Grünzweig, as well as works by designer Ladislav Sutnar and anti-war cartoons by Adolf Hoffmeister and Antonín Plec. The opening panel of the exhibition foreshadowed the main idea of the project: to commemorate famous and lesser-known First Republic artists who were forced to leave their country before World War II, emigrated to the United States and influenced the American cultural scene with their work. Visitors were able to find details about each of these personalities via a QR code on a specially set up website (www.tickettothenewworld.com). An interesting exhibition of some almost unknown works is still ongoing and can be seen in the large hall on the second floor of the building.

On the opening day of the exhibition, there was also a talk in the evening by the project curator Eva Heyd about the book Ticket to the New World, a bi-lingual publication by the Czech National Trust. The talk about the book was led by the American writer and translator Alex Zucker and also featured American historian Majda Kallab Whitaker. Although the talk was primarily about the book as a whole, the talk and questions from the audience focused mainly on the personalities whose works were on display in the exhibition. Majda Kallab focused on the activities of singer and actress Jarmila Novotná. The event took place exactly on the day of the eightieth anniversary of the great anti-war demonstration in New York, which was a reaction to the Lidice tragedy. Most of the featured artists were involved in the foreign resistance and participated in the protest.

The talk was recorded and will be available to watch in its entirety on YouTube in the near future. Books were available for visitors to purchase on site and more are still available at the exhibition venue.

In the section of the Bohemian National Hall dedicated to the memory of Antonín Dvořák, which is looked after by the Dvorak Heritage Association, an exhibition was installed to commemorate Jarmila Novotna – especially her famous portrayals in roles at the Metropolitan Opera. This exhibition can also still be visited.

Another special evening that is part of the project was a screening of animated films by cartoonist and animator Paul Fierlinger. Together with his wife Sandra, he creates films that have won the world’s most prestigious awards. Paul is the only living artist of the Ticket – he came to the United States as a child with his parents before the war. Sandra and Paul live in Philadelphia and were unable to attend the June 16 performance. Therefore, a portion of a biographical film about their work was shown as an introduction. The next two films, the newer More Vivid Than this Morning News and the older biopic Drawn From Memory were masterful examples of the studio’s work and animation skills. Like the first evening, the screening was well attended and generated an interesting final discussion.

Recording of the discussion with Eva Heyd and Alex Zucker