Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
Artists 4 Israel: Response Art Series
September 1 – 14, 2011 – Opening September 1; 7:00 p.m.
There is a short list of things that really matter: family, friends, country and faith the most. For many Jews, our people and Israel occupy an almost sacred place in the order of commitment and passion. Therefore, when either the Jewish people or the legitimacy of the State of Israel are attacked and slandered, we react passionately. In a visceral way these things are crucial to the very core of our identity. How do contemporary Jewish artists respond?
The answer is emphatically provided by two exhibitions in September at the Dershowitz Center Gallery at Industry City (Bush Terminal) in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. The Response Art Series created by Sheryl Intrator and Artists 4 Israel has challenged New York area artists to create works that support Israel’s right to exist in peace and security. All of the works are newly created and are in response to a recent series of pro-Israel lectures, panel discussions and the Fogel family memorial service at Congregation Kehillat Jeshurun in Manhattan.
Terror: Artists Respond curated by Chava Evans and Yona Verwer (in collaboration with Jewish Art Salon, Art Kibbutz NY and Mima’amakim) solicited an international group of artists to submit works that reflect their reaction to terror attacks in the ten years since 9/11. Both shows demonstrate the passionate response of Jewish artists to these dual threats: accusations of illegitimacy and random violence and murder. The result is moving, creative and devastating.
Dan Keinan’s riveting and ironic image of five religious girls running and playing on the concrete base of the security wall introduces us to a seldom explored side of the consequences of terror. While the barrier’s deleterious effect on Palestinians has been endlessly used in anti-Israel propaganda, the effect on Israeli youth has been seldom explored as effectively as this image, Growing under Concrete.
Jewish artistic responses to attacks against Jews have a particularly rich history, especially in the 20th century. Holocaust art is of course a prime example with one of the earliest examples, Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion (1938), being the artist’s challenge to Judaize this iconic Christian image into a scathing examination of European Jewish suffering. Noteworthy among many other examples is Arthur Szyk’s Haggadah (1934 – 1936) that reconceives Egyptian cruelty as a direct predecessor to German oppression and anti-Semitism.
It is the unbearable nature of baseless hate that causes Jewish artists to react with such originality and passion. In the last 20 years two artists have notoriously created responses in the postmodern form of the graphic novel. Art Spiegelman’s Maus (1986-1991) casts mice as the Jews and cats as the Nazis to retell his father’s survival of the Holocaust and post-war travails. It simultaneously creates distance and intimacy in the search for understanding and closure in a Holocaust survivor’s offspring, the author and artist himself. In a radically different approach to dissecting exactly where anti-Semitic hate come from, Will Eisner’s last graphic novel, The Plot: The Secret Story of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2005) traces the history of the Protocols first fabricated by Tsarist secret police and then promoted by Henry Ford, Adolf Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan and Islamic fundamentalists among countless others. This is the “father of the graphic novel’s” (NY Times) heroic attempt to set the record straight for his people and help turn back the tide of hate.
When all is said and done it is Jewish faith that drives love of Israel and the Jewish people. Shoshannah Brombacher’s hallucinatory Kaddish seemed to sum up the locus of that faith, much as the kaddish itself, said countless times each day. The kaddish is unique in Jewish prayer, never mentioning God directly and, as a form of praise and celebration of God, only refers to “the Name” as the object of our adoration and blessing. It is the abstract nature of the kaddish, both in mourning and in praise, that allows us to focus on the actual substance of what we believe. Brombacher’s image mysteriously mixes the Aramaic text with fleeting images, snippets of figures dashing off the page, smudges of explosions interspersed with blotches of black that summon violence and blood. And yet in this chaos we insist on our faith in our God. This is why these artists effectively had no choice but to respond to the threat in our time to that which we hold dear.
Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at email@example.com.
About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Even when our prayers are ignored and troubles confront us, Rabbi Shoff teaches that it is the same God who sent the difficulties as who answered our prayers before.
I’ve put together some of the most frequently asked questions regarding bullies, friendship and learning disabilities.
His parents make it clear that they feel the right thing is for Avi to visit his grandfather, but they leave it up to him.
Orna Porat was a former Christian and a member of the Hitler Youth.
There is a rich Jewish history in this part of the world. Now the hidden customs are being revealed, as many seek to reconnect with their roots.
There are times when a psychiatrist will over-medicate, which is why it’s important to find a psychiatrist whom you trust and feel comfortable with.
On November 22, 1963, Abraham Zapruder created one of the most famous, and valuable, pieces of film and became forever linked with one of the greatest American national tragedies when he stood with his camera on an elevated concrete abutment as President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas. Exhibited here is […]
“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom I’ve been thinking a lot about worrying. Anxiety is an issue close to my heart – […]
Upon meeting the Zionist delegation, General Wu, a recent convert to Christianity, said, “You are my spiritual brothers.
With the assistance of Mr. Tress, Private Moskowitz tried tirelessly to become an army chaplain.
Dr. Yael Respler is taking a well-deserved vacation this week and asked Eilon Even-Esh to share some thoughts with her readers in her stead.
“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.
A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.
Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).
Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.
Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/artists-4-israel-response-art-series-terror-artists-respond-2/2011/08/31/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: