Dorit Cypis & Louise Steinman / Welcome the Stranger

Water Stations: Lloyd Hamrol
Sound Composition: Jimmy Harry
Sound Vocalist: Magdalena Birczynska
Text: Edmond Jabès (Egypt/France); Dunya Mikhail (Iraq/US); Czeslaw Milosz (Poland/US); and
present-day asylum-seekers from Eritrea; Syria; Guatemala;
Translation to Polish: Piotr Florczyk

Welcome the Stranger is created for the Open City Festival, Lublin, Poland, an ancient city with
complex political and cultural histories. Welcome the Stranger is an urban installation, performance
and social engagement project that reflects principles of sharing sustenance across all human need.
We are two artists, a writer and a visual artist, living in Los Angeles, USA, both with family roots in
Poland’s Jewish community.

Our focus begins with The Old Lublin Well, celebrated and revived as an ancient site that once
sustained the local neighborhood with water and as a meeting place. The Old Well, the only one extant
of more than a dozen Lublin wells, remains part of the pre-war city water system. Until the outbreak
of WWII this well served the once-thriving Jewish District. Water was accessed from a source of veinlike
streams stretching across the expansive underground terrain. Perhaps this water source
connected with other vein-like streams flowing east, west, north and south across the city, country,
continent, and across continents, sustaining people across national and identity boundaries.

As water of the earth runs below us and greets us all via way stations such as The Old Well, so too
Welcome the Stranger seeks to engage with multiple locations and people. Our project fans out
through the old city of Lublin connecting the Old Well with other sculptural “way stations”
representing the long gone wells. Each station contains a water pail and frames a text by a person
currently struggling with refugee status somewhere across the globe.

Other text reflecting expressions of foreignness and exile, in particular the writing of Edmond Jabès,
is inscribed on glass panels in the side niches of the Old Well, and transformed into an audio score to
be heard daily coming from the Old Well. Discussion, hosted by invited local speakers, will take place
at The Old Well, on Saturday afternoon, September 14.
No matter who you are, we, Welcome the Stranger.


The artists wish to give thanks to the following people for their support:
Katy Bentall, Piotr Brozek, Ludomir Franczak, Magda Franczak, Weba Garretson, Joanna Klass,
Tomasz Kitlinski, Michal Kobialka, Zofia Lesinska, Pawel Leszkowicz, Julian and Raphael Mahari,
Tomasz Pietrasiewicz, Joanna Zętar
Friends in the USA who made donations towards production
Staff of Open City Art Festival, Lublin


Louise Steinman is an artist, writer, and literary curator. Her work frequently deals with memory, history, and reconciliation. Her three books include: TheCrooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation; The Knowing Body:The Artist As Storyteller in Contemporary Performance and, The Souvenir: A Daughter Discovers Her Father’s War. Steinman founded– and was for twenty fiveyears the curator—of the celebrated ALOUD literary series at the LosAngeles Public Library. She has directed and collaborated on performance works, most recently as artist-in-residence at Ucross Foundation and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. She is the recipient of awards from The Adam Mickiewicz Institute,and the National Endowment for the Arts and wasawarded the 2019 Chora Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. She is codirector of the Los Angeles Institute for Humanities at the University of Southern California.


Dorit Cypis has explored themes of history, identity, andsocial relations as an artist, educator, mediator and social activator since the 1980s. Her work, poetic, formal, body full and political, traverses performance, photography, immersive mediainstallation and social practice and has been presented internationally including by the Whitney Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Orange County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museumof Modern Art, Musee des Beaux Arts/Bruxelles and Musee Contemporaire/Montreal. Civic community programs she has created include Kulture Klub Collaborative, initiated in 1992, for artists and home-less youth to bridge survival and inspiration. She has written on identity and social relations for books and journals and has designed curriculum for colleges and universities. Her current projects include, Open Your Eyes If You Want to See, transposing a proverb on human relations to visual braille and interpreted by musicians as musical score to transform seeing to listening, One Another, research, dialogue and performance on identity, difference and conflict,and Peoples Lab an initiative to build creative leadership for social change. Dorit has received many awards for her work including a Guggenheim Fellowship and Rauschenberg Foundationaward in 2014. She earned post-graduate degrees from California Institute for the Arts and Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, Pepperdine University. Cypis was born in Israel, raised in Montreal, Canada, and currently lives in Los Angeles, California. At the core of her work is a guiding question, “who are we to each other?” 


The Old Well Welcomes the Stranger: GATHERING, Saturday, Sept 14, 5 PM. FREE.

Open City Festival Lublin and Welcome the Stranger project (Dorit Cypis and Louise Steinman) invites the public to a gathering to celebrate the Old Well on the former Szeroka Street in the Lublin bus depot.

Learn about the history of the well from art historian Joanna Zetar, author of several books on the history of Lublin, with archival photos presented by Marek Gromaszek. And from Lublin artist Ludomir Franczak, listen to stories about his search for both the physical “key” to the Old Well and its mythic symbolism; and his artistic research of the old waterways of Lublin, the sources underground that connects the city to other cities countries, and continents.

Sponsored by Open City Festival Lublin with thanks to Open City staff; and to Julian and Raphael Mahari for renovation of the Old Well.