I am proud to be working across disciplines while rooted in an institution specifically dedicated to fostering the making and critical study of contemporary art.

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Student Profile: Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman

October 07, 2019
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PhD Student in Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies in the School for the Contemporary ArtsFaculty of Communication, Art, and Technology

I am a poet, artist, and curator who works with Jewish histories as a medium for a context- and site-dependent practice. Before coming to the Pacific Northwest (nexw Xwlemi Tengexw), I worked as a curator at the Jewish History Museum/Holocaust History Center of Tucson, where I initiated and oversaw intersectional programming, curricula, exhibitions, and community collaborations on forced removal, legislative racism, and interethnic resistance. I earned my MFA at Brown University and am pursuing a PhD at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts. I am the Interdisciplinary Editor of the Jewish quarterly, Protocols.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?

My dissertation, Walking in Ethnocidal Places; Durational Aesthetics and Jewish Ruin, is a practice-based work, meaning it depends upon artistic enactment and the corollary documentation and presentation as much as critical academic writing and thought. The project that prompted the dissertation, Lost in Jüdischer Friedhof Weißensee, was a six-month performance with/in the largest active and intact Jewish cemetery in postwar Europe, and insurgently challenges the disciplinary boundaries and forms of knowledge production traditionally upheld by academic standards.

Simon Fraser University's Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies track provides my unconventional project, according to the momentum it has accumulated in previous iterations, with an otherwise nonexistent opportunity for doctoral rigor, resources, and professionalization. Dr. Claudette Lauzon's expertise in the contemporary art of exile and militarism makes her an ideal supervisor, while the other committee members, Dr. Kirsten Emiko McAllister and Dr. Jeff Derksen, represent additional support in cultural studies, critical race, memory studies, transnationalism, and field work.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH.

My dissertation enacts and contextualizes three research-intensive interventions that use walking and site-study to work through minor histories of race-making, imperial violence, and diasporic materiality in three international locations: 1) Clemson University, the former Jim Crow military college in the US American south that my paternal grandfather attended in the 1930s, 2) the shrinking forests of the Kujawsko-Pomorskie province in Poland, and 3) an abandoned cemetery of Jewish settlers in the shadow of the US-Mexico separation wall.

WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?

My supervisor and committee, as well as the university's staff, have been extraordinarily supportive, helpful, and understanding. I am proud to be working across disciplines while rooted in an institution specifically dedicated to fostering the making and critical study of contemporary art.

VIEW ROBERT'S WORK:

Contact Robert: robert_yerachmiel_sniderman@sfu.ca