Ira Khonen Temple


Artist2Artist Fellowship


My accordion pumps air through archives, bringing them (and me) to a new life. My accordion breathes with me as my comfort animal, and together we create music that is a temporary container holding together the past, present and possible futures.  

I take old Yiddish songs and stories and run them through my own idiosyncratic experience, and that of the movement spaces and Jewish community spaces I work in.  From there I produce new interpretations and entirely new material in English and Yiddish that is sewn together in ways that are funny and surprising.

I’m making work that is unabashedly particularist and community oriented, but with the understanding that community is porous and complex, and that my particulars are wormholes to the particulars of others.

My work focuses on healing some of the pain around ruptures created by displacement and genocide. And then asks: now what?

My work builds new architecture around physical and textual spaces that are often language-locked or gender-coded in a way that access to them can be challenging.  As a very sensitive kid, music helped me to have a means of expression that also offered me some protection and anonymity, because of the potential it offered for abstraction, humor, wit, and grief. My work today continues to help me speak imaginatively and generatively for myself in a society in which my existence as a trans person can easily be reduced to a political talking point.

I draw from a riot girl ethos of doing what we can with what we have, from Pauline Oliveros’ sonic meditations, as well as from the deep wells of cantorial singing, ecstatic group singing of Chassidic communities, lullabies and other private at-home singing traditions, all juxtaposed with the instrumental traditions of the Ashkenazi imagination.

Featured Image: Daloy Politsey/Down with the Police. Photographer Unknown.

No items found.
Mir Veln Zey Iberlebn/We Will Outlive Them. Arranged by Ira Khonen Temple. From Tsibele's album release show at Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn, November 7, 2017. Video: Sergio Carrasco.

Tsibele: Mir Veln Zey Iberlebn/We Will Outlive Them. Zoë Aqua, violin ;Eva Boodman, trumpet; Zoe Guigueno, bass; Ira K. Temple, accordion; Eléonore Weill, flutes. From Tsibele's album release show at Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn, November 7, 2017. Video: Sergio Carrasco.

Mir Veln Updated. Zine by Ira Khonen Temple. Patches designed by Sol Brager.

Back to