Rodinsky’s Whitechapel (Artangel, 1999) was commissioned as part of the INNERcity series, which encouraged writers and artists to excavate a range of urban environments and to contemplate the changing nature of the city and the counterpoint between narrative and place, between language and location.
Lichtenstein’s artist’s guidebook Rodinsky’s Whitechapel takes readers on a walking tour past sites and buildings, which played an important role not only in Rodinsky’s life, but also in Lichtenstein’s own.
The walk also highlights the last remnants of many important locations of the once vibrant but now quickly vanishing Jewish East End.
As an artwork, Rodinsky’s Whitechapel (commissioned by Artangel) captures the soul of the East End in sharp graphic form. Haunting and beautiful, this is the piece which stands as a fitting memorial to the elusive memory of David Rodinsky and the lost Jewish East End.
(The Observer, Lisa Jardine, 1999)
This book was designed by Eggers + Diaper as a limited edition.
I was born in 1969. The same year that David Rodinsky mysteriously disappeared from his attic room above the synagogue in Princelet Street, in the heart of the old Jewish East End. His room, a chaos of writings, annotated notebooks and maps, gramophone records and clothes, had been left undisturbed for over a decade.
I accidentally came across the room whilst researching my own family history in 1990. Later finding out my own paternal grandparents had settled in Princelet Street in the 1930s, living above their watchmaking and jewellery shop on the junction with Brick Lane.
These connections inspired me to spend time in the building. I secured a residency there, taking over Rodinsky's role as the unpaid caretaker of the building. Over time my obsession with the room grew. I began to examine the boxed up artefacts belonging to David Rodinsky. As well as attempting to decode his abandoned belongings I started to search for people that knew him. Through walking the streets, asking questions, I eventually built up a mental map of the former Jewish East End. After years of further research and with considerable help from my menotr Professor Bill Fishman I eventually became a tour guide of the area.
This book takes you on a walk through Rodinsky's story, my own quest and the lost world of the Jewish East End.