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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘museum’

Guggenheim Museum Website Calls Israel “Racist,” Falsely Claims it Censors Art

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Elder of Ziyon website}

The famous Guggenheim Museum in New York has a blog that says it “tells the Guggenheim’s evolving story, and offers insights on visual culture, urbanism, and the global art world, along with regular discoveries from the archives.”

It recently posted this outrageous piece by Chen Tamir, called “Censorship in Israel:

Over the past two years, the arts in Israel have been increasingly threatened by censorship and draconian government funding proposals. Some see this as the beginning of a culture war not unlike the one endured by the United States during the 1990s, when politicians used arts funding reform as a political tool to curry favor with conservative constituents. Freedom of speech is not treated with the same reverence in Israel as it is in the States; the country was not founded on a constitution that privileges such liberty. (Indeed, there is no Israeli constitution, a fact that some would consider a root cause of its racist and lopsided legal system and civic infrastructure.) The state of stagnation and worsening division in Israel/Palestine further entrenches the occupation, allowing more settlements to be built and inflicting further oppression on Palestinians. The metanarrative in Israel is one of continuous existential fear and victimization, which leads to the increased justification of insularity and nationalism, and the silencing of opposition.

Tamir includes many half-truths and absurd exaggerations as well as a complete disregard for the definition of “censorship.”

The calls for and instances of censorship over the past two years have been both top-down (from government officials) and grassroots (by private citizens calling for the removal of artworks). Some individuals have taken matters into their own hands and established paramilitary organizations that spy on human rights activists and organizations, most notably the extra-political group Im Tirtzu, which recently published a blacklist of “moles”—cultural producers of all stripes who support leftist organizations that they perceive as anti-Zionist.

Im Tirtzu is paramilitary?

And why is art that defames a nation free speech, but compiling a list of people behind that art is “censorship?”

Here’s another example of “censorship”:

Artist-choreographer Arkadi Zaides was criticized for a video and dance work incorporating footage from B’Tselem’s Camera Project (through which cameras are given to Palestinians to document conflicts with the army and neighboring settlers). The Museum of Petach Tikva, which presented the work, was asked by the municipality to close the exhibition early following pressure from a “concerned citizen,” while the Ministry of Culture withdrew its funding from the show (although the exhibition remained open until its scheduled end date a few days after this incident).

So, not a single person was deprived of seeing the show. How is that censorship?

Further examples include the redirection of arts funding to things like the Zionist Art Prize, and right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acting as temporary Minister of Education, vetoing the 2015 candidate for the Ministry’s annual literature prize.

That is not censorship either.

Minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev have been responsible for a string of incidents of or attempts at censorship, ranging from the banning of books and plays to a withdrawal of state funding from Jaffa’s Elmina Theater unless its director, Norman Issa, reversed his refusal to perform in a settlement in the West Bank. Regev, who previously served as the chief censor of the Israeli army, recently treated the director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Suzanne Landau (herself recently accused of self-censorship) to a surprise Friday-night phone call to ask about a work of art in a recent exhibition by Uri Katzenstein.

The only thing in this list that is actual censorship is the supposed “banning of books and plays.” Curiously, Tamir doesn’t mention their names, but almost certainly he is referring to the Education Ministry taking an anti-Israel novel off of its reading list as “banning,” which it isn’t. Almost certainly there has been no banning of any play as well.

It takes a while before we find out how Tamir defines “censorship”:  the refusal of a nation to fund art that directly attacks it.

Herein lies the crux of contemporary censorship: funding. As in the American Culture Wars, public funding is being manipulated to become a mechanism of censorship.

That is not censorship by any definition. Making it somewhat more difficult for an artist to make a living from public money is not censorship. I can make art if I want, but if the Guggenheim decides not to make an exhibition of my artwork and the government doesn’t fund me I am not being “censored.” If publishers aren’t interested in my poetry and the BBC refuses to air my play and MTV doesn’t want to air my music videos, I am not being “censored.”

The entire article is a string of lies that simply misuses the meaning of the word “censorship” to falsely paint Israel as a racist society.

The Guggenheim Museum should remove this article. Not because I support censorship – I emphatically do not – but because I do not believe that the museum should publish lies, fabrications and slander. Tamir has the full right to post her lies on her own website and the Guggenheim has the full right to reject publishing a litany of her lies and half-truths.

If supporters of the Guggenheim decide to withhold their funding to show their displeasure for the museum becoming a mouthpiece for anti-Israel propaganda, that isn’t censorship either.

Elder of Ziyon

What If They Built a $24 Million ‘Palestinian Museum’ and There Was Nothing to Show?

Monday, May 16th, 2016

The $24 million Palestinian Museum is slated to open on Wednesday this week in Bir Zeit, about 15 miles north of Jerusalem, a dream that has come true after it had been first initiated in 1997 by the London-based Welfare Association to commemorate the “Nakba,” that fateful gamble local Arabs have taken against the 1947 UN partition resolution, which ended up with them getting nothing at all. But, as the NY Times put it on Monday, the new museum has a stunning, contemporary new building; soaring ambitions as a space for “Palestinian” art, history and culture; an outdoor amphitheater; a terraced garden — and no exhibits.

There was going to be an inaugural exhibit, named “Never Part,” about artifacts belonging to Arab refugees, but it will not be happening, because there was a disagreement between the museum’s board and its director, Jack Persekian, and the director was sacked. Or, as a spokeswoman announced on Sunday: “There will not be any artwork exhibited in the museum at all.”

The NY Times commented that the fate of the exhibition says more about the realities of Arab society than any art collection could have done. The defunct exhibition “Never Part” was going to feature artistic interpretations of keys and photographs that Arab refugees around the world have kept from their old homes in Israel.

The ousted director Persekian told the NY Times the museum’s senior management informed him they no longer liked his project, but never explained why. Persekian said he had collected images of countless artifacts from “Palestinians” around the world for “Never Part,” which he intended to make available to artists who could have interpreted the objects as they saw fit. But the folks in charge of the museum were uneasy about his plan. “Maybe they didn’t want to take a risk with something that is so unpredictable and so uncontrollable,” he said.

All the museum people would say is, “We didn’t feel that what was delivered was up to scratch.”

Now, without any exhibition at all, other than a virtual show starting May 25, which it borrowed from a museum in Beirut, the Palestinian Museum building, designed by Irish architectural firm Heneghan Peng, will host the Wednesday opening ceremony with nothing to show inside. The official version is that the ceremony will only celebrate the completion of the building.

David Israel

Anti-Zionist Mob Invades Brooklyn Museum to Protest Nuance and Humanism

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

On Saturday, a Brooklyn Museum exhibition of 11 photographers about the lives of Israelis and Arabs on either side of the “green line” was hijacked by a large group of local leftists, including several Arabs, to protest the museum’s chummy relationship with the real estate industry and to somehow push Arab refugees and displaced NYC tenants into the same metaphorical sack.

The exhibition, “This Place,” at the Brooklyn Museum, explores the complexity of Israel and Judea and Samaria, “as place and metaphor,” through the eyes of twelve internationally acclaimed photographers, none of whom are Israeli or PA Arab. The organizers have all but admitted that while they could have their pick out of hordes of Israeli photographers eager to participate, not one PA Arab photographer agreed to join the project, and so, it appears, the Israelis didn’t get to show their stuff either.

“The exhibition challenges viewers to go beyond the polarizing narratives and familiar images of the region found in mainstream media,” goes the Brooklyn Museum presentation. “The result is a deeply humanistic and nuanced examination that reminds us of the place of art, not as an illustration of conflict, but as a platform for raising questions and engaging viewers in a conversation.”

Settlement / Photograph by Nick Waplington at Brooklyn Museum

Settlement / Photograph by Nick Waplington at Brooklyn Museum

Can’t have that, right? And so, as Rebecca McCarthy reported in Hyperallergenic, a group calling itself the Decolonial Cultural Front and Movement to Protect the People, on Saturday crowded the exhibition space (which is a great way to make fewer than 100 people look like a Bernie Sanders-size crowd), led by one Amin Husain, a part-time lecturer at the New School, an Arab-American lawyer, artist and activist with a BA in Philosophy and Political Science, and a JD from Indiana University Law School – Bloomington. Husain, says his bio, practiced law for 5 years before leaving law for art, and is now an editor of Tidal Occupy Theory magazine and producer of Tidal on the Waves show on WBAI Radio.

Amin Husain enlisted his group of several dozen leftists to stage a protest “in response to displacement — both in Brooklyn and Palestine.”

The protesters say the exhibition is backed by funders who also support the Israeli military (which is code for Jews), and other pro-occupation elements in Israeli society, particularly those that preference Jewish identity over those of the country’s other cultural and ethnic groups. Can’t have that.

The group also targeted the museum’s role in gentrification and displacement of people of color in Brooklyn. And protested the fact that the museum stands on Native American land. The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape people, who mostly lived in New Jersey, also used to hunt in the forests of Flatbush Avenue. Bridge and Tunnel folks.

Isn’t it fascinating that the left recognizes the right of Native Americans to lands they were displaced from two centuries ago, but is deaf to the plight of the Jews who have returned to lands from which they had been displaced two millennia ago? One woman, standing in front of a banner that read “Decolonize This Place,” cried out: “We stand with our comrades to amass indigenous resurgence and fight for decolonization.” But wasn’t the Zionist endeavor, in essence, the decolonization and liberation from centuries of Arab and Ottoman occupation?

When white people decolonize their oppressors, does it count as liberation, or does it automatically constitute an occupation?

Jamila — Prepared to receive their released relatives outside, Ofra Prison Office of Social Affairs, eastern Jerusalem / Photograph by Wendy Ewald at Brooklyn Museum

Jamila — Prepared to receive their released relatives outside, Ofra Prison Office of Social Affairs, eastern Jerusalem / Photograph by Wendy Ewald at Brooklyn Museum

The protesters also expressed their concerns with the “artwashing” with nice photographs what Israel is doing to the Arabs. The term is reminiscent of “pinkwashing,” which is what the gay left is accusing gays who praise Israel’s stellar record in the treatment of LGBT people. Sure, they’re nice to their homos, but that don’t mean they don’t drink the blood of Arab children, now, does it? Never mind that the life expectancy of an openly gay person in Arab society is until dinnertime.

The group also came prepared with stickers bearing the Arab names of locations covered in the photographs, which shouldn’t have been difficult to Google, and they posted those stickers over the labels for each photograph, because only one culture matters when it comes to Israel, the culture that invaded the area back in the seventh century.

Amin Husain used the “human microphone” shtick, the most annoying gimmick ever, to declare that “the days in which art and artists are instrumentalized to normalize oppression, displacement and dispossession of any people are over. We are watching you.”

Mob censorship is the most effective tool of repression, which enables relatively small groups to temporarily dictate to others what is proper and improper for them to do, say, or experience. It works with every kind of mob, on the left, with well-organized pro-Palestinian students drowning out Israeli speakers on campus; with Donald Trump supporters who drown out the opposition, including poor Senator Ted Cruz who couldn’t put in a word edgewise in such an encounter; in talkbacks, in Facebook conversations. We are in the era of the activist mob, and our civilization is a lot like the ocean that keeps absorbing billions of tons of poisonous human refuse, until, at some point, it will surely die.

Now, there’s a tortured analogy we could support.

JNi.Media

Brilliant Landscape Architect Roberto Burle Marx at the Jewish Museum

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994) was one of the most influential landscape architects of the twentieth century, yet he is not a familiar figure outside of his native Brazil. He is best known for his iconic seaside pavements on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach, and for his abstract, geometric garden designs. But his work encompasses an enormous range of artistic forms and styles: Burle Marx was a painter and sculptor; a designer of textiles, jewelry, theater sets, and costumes; a ceramicist and stained-glass artist. He was an avid art collector, a talented baritone, a consummate cook, and a visionary self-taught botanist and ecologist. For him, all these endeavors were equally important, facets of one another.

Avenida Atlântica, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro / Source: http://burlemarx.com.br

Avenida Atlântica, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro / Source: http://burlemarx.com.br

Marx was born in São Paulo, the fourth son of Cecilia Burle, an upper class Brazilian Catholic woman whose family came from Pernambuco and France, and Wilhelm Marx, a German Jew, born in Stuttgart and raised in Trier. The family moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1913.

The artist embraced modernism in the early 1930s, as the movement was taking hold in Brazil. He revolutionized garden design by using abstraction and grand colorful sweeps of local vegetation, abolishing symmetry and rejecting imported flora and European models. He viewed the role of the landscape architect in ideal terms: to mitigate the loss of the primeval garden and repair the rift between humanity and nature.

Mineral roof garden, Banco Safra headquarters, São Paulo, designed by Roberto Burle Marx, 1983. / The Jewish Museum

Mineral roof garden, Banco Safra headquarters, São Paulo, designed by Roberto Burle Marx, 1983. / The Jewish Museum

Burle Marx’s art inhabits a rare space between the rational and the lyrical. Nature’s variability was for him a liberating force: in a sixty-year career he designed more than two thousand gardens worldwide, discovered close to fifty plant species, advocated passionately for the environment, and made paintings and objects of exuberant, rare beauty. The artist who called himself “the poet of his own life,” left the world a poetic legacy.

Victoria amazonica water lilies, garden of the Fazenda Vargem Grande, Clemente Gomes residence, Areias, designed by Roberto Burle Marx, 1979. © Burle Marx Landscape Studio, Rio de Janeiro. / The Jewish Museum

Victoria amazonica water lilies, garden of the Fazenda Vargem Grande, Clemente Gomes residence, Areias, designed by Roberto Burle Marx, 1979. © Burle Marx Landscape Studio, Rio de Janeiro. / The Jewish Museum

Burle Marx’s gardens are works of modern art, not only because they make use of flat planes, abstract shapes, and bold color, but because of the way they behave: they prompt awareness of oneself in relation to the built environment. Burle Marx was an early practitioner of a contemporary way of working: crossing genres fluidly, integrating art with political concerns such as ecology, and disregarding the traditional separation of fields of practice. It is therefore no surprise that artists of today find him a fruitful source of inspiration. In this Jewish Museum exhibition, seven artists with ties to Latin America, all born after 1950: Juan Araujo, Paloma Bosquê, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Luisa Lambri, Arto Lindsay, Nick Mauss, and Beatriz Milhazes — provide a sampling of his influence.

The exhibition Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist, will be at the Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Ave at 92nd St, May 6 – September 18, 2016.

Source: the Jewish Museum website

JNi.Media

Family of German Jewish Victim Suing Israel Museum over ‘Birds’ Head Haggadah’

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

The descendants of a German Jewish lawyer and member of parliament who was murdered by the Nazis in 1934, are demanding the return of his possession, the 13th century colorfully illustrated “Birds’ Head Haggadah,” which is part of the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The heirs are asking for “less than $10 million” for the rare work, whose market value is several times that amount. The heirs do not wish to remove the Haggadah from the museum.

The so-called “Birds’ Head Haggadah,” a work in pen, ink and tempera on parchment by the scribe Menahem, gets its name from the images in the manuscript, where the human figures are depicted as having birds’ heads with beaks for mouths. Some figures also have pointed animal ears. All the men wear the compulsory conical “Jew’s hat,” imposed on the Jews of Germany in 1215.

According to The Art Newspaper, the Birds’ Head Haggadah used to belong to Ludwig Marum, a lawyer from Karlsruhe, Germany, who was a member of the anti-Nazi Social Democratic Party and served in the Reichstag from 1928 until 1933. He was arrested and sent to the Kislau concentration camp, where he was murdered in 1934 (his death was reported as a suicide). Marum’s children fled Germany shortly thereafter.

In 1946, Herman Kahn, a Jewish refugee from Karlsruhe, sold the Birds’ Head Haggadah for $600 to the National Bezalel Museum (later part of the Israel Museum). No one knows how Kahn got hold of the work. The manuscript was reproduced in a catalogue, with a note that it was “in the possession” of the Marum family before the war. But the museum display does not offer a similar acknowledgement.

Marum’s daughter, Elisabeth Lunau, visited the Israel Museum in 1984 and saw the manuscript on permanent display there. She sent a letter to the museum’s curator of Judaica, arguing that the Haggadah had been sold without the family’s consent and demanded that the “rightful owners” be recognized in the display. She wrote: “The family Marum, however, thought the Haggadah should remain in the Israel Museum for the benefit of the public.”

According to TAN, the family’s attorney handling the lawsuit is E. Randol Schoenberg, who in 2006 helped Maria Altmann successfully recover paintings by Gustav Klimt, including, most notably, “Woman in Gold,” from the Belvedere Museum in Vienna.

JNi.Media

German Museum Displays Small Scale Expressions of Racial Hatred

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

If you’re concerned about a repeat performance by the German nation of the events of the first half of the 20th Century, you may wish to visit a new exhibition at the German Historical Museum, featuring some 600 stickers and replicas, racist and anti-racist, from 1880 to the present day.

It turns out Germans continue to harbor very ugly feelings about people and things that are not German, and that they prefer their bigotry small and intimate, away from the lime lights.

The exhibition, titled “Sticky Messages — Anti-Semitic and racist stickers from 1880 to the present,” shows adhesive notes, trading cards and pictures, letter sealers and stickers from the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the reign of Nazism and on into the present day in their respective context. “Sticky Messages” tells of a social practice of misanthropic prejudices and recounts at the same time the history of fighting against antisemitic and racist stereotypes.

A sticker from around 2011 reads: "Cult of Guilt: Holocaust - I can't hear it anymore!" / Photo credit: Deutsches Historisches Museum

A sticker from around 2011 reads: “Cult of Guilt: Holocaust – I can’t hear it anymore!” / Photo credit: Deutsches Historisches Museum

“They are familiar to everyone and can be found sticking everywhere: on street signs, letter boxes, in underground stations, in children’s rooms, in love letters,” explains the exhibition’s flyer. “Stickers and adhesive labels, also known as sticky notes, have been around on a massive scale since the late 19th century: a small format that is zealously disseminated in public places, privately collected and often traded. Stickers have been used since the beginning as an inexpensive way of popularizing worldviews. Collector cards and albums helped to spread and reinforce racist ideas of inequality and superiority and to bring them into people’s private lives. Stickers with anti-Jewish pictures and slogans have always been extremely popular with anti-Semites. But Jewish organizations soon learned to fight back against these slanderous attacks and publicly combated the anti-Semitic propaganda. Even today stickers are used for political agitation. Stickers like ‘Refugees welcome’ or ‘Nein zum Heim’ – short for saying ‘we don’t want any refugees living here’ – serve to signal acceptance, to polarize or to intimidate people.”

A sticker from around 1900 reads: "Away with Juda! - The Jews are Germany's disaster." / Photo credit: Deutsches Historisches Museum

A sticker from around 1900 reads: “Away with Juda! – The Jews are Germany’s disaster.” / Photo credit: Deutsches Historisches Museum

STICKY MESSAGES
Anti-Semitic and racist stickers from 1880 to the present
April 20 to July 31, 2016
An exhibition of the Center for Research on Antisemitism at Technische Universität Berlin and the Deutsches Historisches Museum.

JNi.Media

Rare 1,000 Yr Old Ketubah on Exhibit in Jerusalem

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

An extremely rare 1,000-year-old ketubah inscribed in Aramaic is now on exhibit in the National Library in Jerusalem.

The Jewish marriage contract dates from November 28, 1023 (CE), according to Dr. Yoel Finkelman, curator for the National Library’s Judaica section.

Written by a scribe named in the ketubah as Yosef HaKohen, son of Yaakov, the document was inscribed in what once was the town of Tzur for a couple named Natan HaKohen, son of Shlomo, and Rachel. Both were from Tzefat (Safed.)

An ancient ketubah written in Aramaic in 1063 CE in the town of Tzur, part of Tzefat, by the scribe Yosef HaKohen, son of Yaakov Hakohen.

An ancient ketubah written in Aramaic in 1063 CE in the town of Tzur, by the scribe Yosef HaKohen, son of Yaakov Hakohen.

The document is especially significant as it provides concrete evidence of a Jewish community in the city of Tzefat (Safed) in the 11th century (CE).

Although all ketubahs – including those written to this very day – list a section detailing the obligations of the husband to provide for the wife, and her rights in the event of divorce, some have additional sections as well. In fact, ketubahs have not changed much at all over the past 2,500 years; they still are written in the same format, more or less, and with the same intent: to list the obligations of the groom towards his bride, to list the contents of the dowry, and the amount of money the groom is providing to the bride as security should the marriage fail and end in divorce, as well as any other conditions that might apply.

The Tzefat Ketubah is one of these, commented Finkelman, noting an additional section in this case. “For instance, if the woman has expensive jewelry or her parents give gifts in honor of the wedding and then the couple divorce, those items are returned to her,” he explained. In the ancient document, there is indeed a list of Rachel HaKohen’s jewelry, household items and clothing – including the weight and monetary value of each item. Moreover, the disposition of each item is discussed, should various events take place – even should the wife become “mentally unstable.”

Regretfully, in today’s world, the ketubah is sometimes disregarded when marriages become fractured. Some Jewish husbands reverse the document, forcing the wife’s family instead to pay a bribe in order to win a divorce contract that by Jewish law can only be granted by a husband. In other, more rare cases, sometimes an estranged wife refuses a divorce contract, likewise holding a disenchanted husband hostage as well.

In any of the above scenarios, expert rabbinic negotiators are usually sought in order to resolve the conflict. In severe cases, the struggle can sometimes take years.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rare-1000-yr-old-ketuba-on-exhibit-in-jerusalem/2015/05/26/

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