web analytics
November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Contemporary Book Art and Hebrew Texts


“Renew our days as of old”(from Echah) (2011) Ink, acrylic and collage on paper by David Wander. Courtesy the artist

“Renew our days as of old”(from Echah) (2011) Ink, acrylic and collage on paper by David Wander. Courtesy the artist

Museum of Biblical Art
1865 Broadway (61st Street), NYC
www.mobia.org 212 408 1500
June 14 – September 29, 2013
Admission Free

The “book” is a mighty big place these days and the current exhibition at MOBIA, “As Subject and Object: Contemporary Book Artists Explore Sacred Hebrew Texts,” is no exception. Highly mobile ebooks compete with online publications and traditionally bound volumes, scrolls, accordion-style tomes and folios that present equally exciting options for contemporary artists to interact with image and text in one unifying medium. The 14 artists shown here take advantage of many of these possibilities to consider distinctly traditional Hebrew texts. The contrast between ancient hallowed texts and cutting edge contemporary mediums is revealing.

As expertly curated by Matthew Baigell, Ph.D; independent scholar & Professor Emeritus: Rutgers University and Adrianne Rubin; Associate Curator/Registrar, MOBIA, the exhibition in MOBIA’s elegant space is divided into two general categories: Subject and Object. In the works that concentrate on “Subject” the emphasis is Inside the Text; utilizing the specific narratives themselves to explore contemporary meanings, while those with an “Object” orientation investigate the creative and symbolic possibilities of the physical book in all its manifestations, frequently suppressing the specific text.

Only a handful of these artists are exclusively devoted to bookmaking itself. Most of the others are multidisciplinary artists utilizing “the book” as a medium wherever creatively necessary. Although all the artists have contributed significant works, including: Andi Arnovitz, Lynne Avadenka, Siona Benjamin, Jacob El Hanani, Ellen Frank, Archie Granot, Ellen Holtzblatt, Robert Kirschbaum, Carole P. Kunstadt, Mark Podwal, John Shorb, Robbin Ami Silverberg, Deborah Ugoretz and David Wander, I will comment only on a few to emphasize the contrasting approaches to Book Art presented here.

The Papercut Haggadah (1998-2007) (installation detail), 55 pages cut paper by Archie Granot. Collection of Sandra and Max Thurm

The Papercut Haggadah (1998-2007) (installation detail), 55 pages cut paper by Archie Granot.
Collection of Sandra and Max Thurm

Professor Baigell’s catalogue essay sets the fundamental tone, stating that “…the artists…works…do not illustrate stories in traditional ways or even insist on specific religious references.” We see this immediately in two epic works by Archie Granot, the Papercut Haggadah (55 pages, 2007) and the Book of Esther (14 pages, 2009). Granot is a master paper cutter, wielding a scalpel instead of scissors to produce the most intricate multi-layered creations imaginable. The text of Book of Esther is richly framed with 14 totally different abstract decorative papercuts, leaving the actual text basically untouched by the riot of design that surrounds it. In sharp contrast the elaborate Papercut Haggadah presents an even richer and varied palette of decoration and invention, frequently invading and subsuming the haggadah text into pure design and removing it from any functional ritual use. Here the “aesthetic values [totally] dominate the textual…”

Andi Arnovitz’s three works are even more rarified manipulations of Jewish texts. In two wall hangings; All That is Left and Thoughts Are Precious, Ideas Even More So, she has taken old prayer book pages and leaves from the Gemara, carefully cut into small pieces and rolled and tied with silky threads to be then fashioned into meditations on process and a obscured scholarly memory. Vest of Prayers uses the same raw materials and finally becomes a kind of non-normative ritual object; infused with the holiness of its original sources and yet devoid of an actual Jewish ritual role. They are quintessential art objects parading a deeply pious and yet unintelligible Jewish content, metaphorically reflecting a tragic distance from the real vibrancy of contemporary Jewish prayer and learning.

Noah was 600 Years Old…(from HaMabul) (2006) Woodcut on Japanese paper by Ellen Holtzblatt. Courtesy the artist

Noah was 600 Years Old…(from HaMabul) (2006) Woodcut on Japanese paper by Ellen Holtzblatt. Courtesy the artist

In yet another aesthetic twist in which the Conceptual and purely Abstract join forces, Robert Kirschbaum’s 42 Letter Name series occupy one entire wall, deftly challenging the viewer to meditate on the multiplicity of one particular form of the Hebrew Name of God. The challenge (explicated in my JP March 25, 2010 review) is simultaneously intellectually abstract and yet rooted in both Jewish mysticism and a three-dimensional model of a nine square cube, deliciously dissected 42 times.

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Contemporary Book Art and Hebrew Texts”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Banner at Tehran military parade, Sept. 23, 2013. Although the English statement is relatively mild, in Persian and Arabic it says “Death to America.”
Iran Says Nuclear Deal ‘Impossible’ by Nov. 24 Deadline
Latest Sections Stories
Kupfer-112114

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Astaire-112114-Horse

There were many French Jews who jumped at the chance to shed their ancient identity and assimilate.

L to R: Sheldon Adelson, Shawn Evenhaim, Haim Saban

As Rabbi Shemtov stood on the stage and looked out at the attendees, he told them that “Rather than take photos with your cellphones, take a mental photo and keep this Shabbat in your mind and take it with you throughout your life.”

South-Florida-logo

Yeshiva v’Kollel Bais Moshe Chaim will be holding a grand celebration on the occasion of the institution’s 40th anniversary on Sunday evening, December 7. Alumni, students, friends and faculty of the yeshiva, also known as Talmudic University of Florida, will celebrate the achievement and vision of its founders and the spiritual guidance of its educational […]

The yeshiva night accommodates all levels of Jewish education.

Recently, Fort Lauderdale has been the focus of international news, and it has not been about the wonderful weather.

Rabbi Sacks held the position of chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth for 22 years until September 2013.

The event included a dvar Torah by student Pesach Bixon, an overview of courses, information about student life and a student panel that answered frequently asked questions from a student perspective.

It is difficult to write about such a holy person, for I fear I will not accurately portray his greatness…

“Grandpa,” I wondered, as the swing began to slow down, “why are there numbers on your arm?”

So the real question is, “How can we, as hosts, make sure our guest beds are comfortable?” Because your guests will never say anything.

It was a land of opportunity, a place where someone who wasn’t afraid of a little hard work, or the challenges of adapting to a different climate and culture, could prosper.

Rule #1: A wife should never accompany her husband to hang out with his buddies at a fantasy football draft. Unless beer and cigars are her thing, that is.

There are many people today with very little training who put out shingles and proclaim themselves to be marital coaches, shalom bayis helpers, advisers etc.

The two World Series combatants, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants, were Wild Card teams (meaning they didn’t win their respective divisions) that got hot at the right time.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“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.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/contemporary-book-art-and-hebrew-texts/2013/08/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: