With an unmistakable raspy voice, Amy Winehouse won a record of five Grammy Awards in 2008, and her album Back to Black became a worldwide success, accumulating prize after prize until her tragic death in 2011. But who was Amy Jade Winehouse?
In Amy Winehouse – A Family Portrait , the Jewish Museum of Belgium pays a tribute to the talented British singer and songwriter, where from May 10th – September 16th, a door will be opened into the most intimate aspects of the artists’s creative world. Curated by Bruno Benvindo and Zahava Seewald, the exhibition was first shown at the Jewish Museum of London as originally conceived by the singer’s brother, Alex, and his wife Riva.
“For the exhibition in Brussels, we also received the help from set designers Christophe Gaeta and Anne Verbiese,” said Chouna Lomponda, Head of Communications at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.
Through the exhibition the viewer can trace the origins of Winehouse’s passion for music her fascination with fashion and tattoos, her love for the city of London. There are pictures and writings, clothes and personal objects that let the visitor peer into a universe not available until now. One of the aspects that the exhibition explores is the artist’s relationship with her family and Judaism. Her ancestors had emigrated from Belorussia and settled in London’s East End. Some of her maternal uncles were professional musicians, and her mother was a well known jazz singer. A secular Jewish girl who grew up in Southgate, London, Winehouse was often identified as a rebel, a non-conformer, who nonetheless went back to her roots. She represented a new form of Jewish identity, more ethnocultural than religious.
“That’s one of the reasons why we think it’s important to show this exhibition,” said Ms. Lomponda. “We want the public to get to know Amy Winehouse the artist, but also to dive into the day-to-day live of a secular Jewish family. It’s a part of the Jewish culture that we want people to get acquainted with.”
Traces of her brief passage through the Sylvia Young Theater School, scribbles that became hit songs, concerts that were cancelled due to the singer’s addictions, her subsequent deterioration, all of it can be seen in the form of personal items, memorabilia that Winehouse’s relative have agreed to loan for this exhibition only.
There are other events linked to the exhibition. On Tuesday May, 15th at 12h30, a conference given by the psychoanalyst Jean-Claude Encalado will take place, exploring the topic of mental health among artists and singers.