Day 2: American Dream at The JM

18 Mar 2008 In: March 16-20

Day two of our American Dream project–we asked staff and visitors of The Jewish Museum to share their American Dream. Here are some photos:


Her son is a marine.





Girls in Trouble is a contemporary song cycle composed by Alicia Jo Rabins in the voices of ancient women. Drawing on the some of the darker Bible stories, these original songs depict matriarchs young and old in dangerous situations: alone with an enemy general, stricken with leprosy, stranded on top of a mountain, or threatened to be sacrificed by a father. Girls in Trouble was performed live in the museum’s permanent exhibition Culture and Continuity: The Jewish Journey, where Alicia highlighted objects that resonate with Girls in Trouble themes. You can download the podcast of the Girls in Trouble tour through the permanent exhibition, by clicking on the link below.

download the tour (29 mb)

JAMS2 video stillView (28 mb, mp4)The Jewish Animated Mandala Series utilizes the software program After Effects to make video Mandalas with Judaica from the Jewish Museum’s collection in order to make these into mystical abstractions. This download is just one in the series—to see the rest come visit Melissa “at Work” in the Jewish Museum during the second week of “Off the Wall.” One of Melissa’s JAMS is set to Offer Nissim’s 2006 remix of Madonna’s Isaac and Ofra Haza’s Im Ninalu.Download (28 mb, m4v)

A poem by Jake Marmer

17 Mar 2008 In: March 16-20, Mobius

Jake Marmer, publisher of the poetry journal Mimaamakim, was kind enough to send along the following poem, which he shared with the audience at yesterday’s poetry slam.

Modern Dance

What’s natural is
our constipated/infantile awkwardness who says
dancing needs to be smooth or graceful what’s
this a ballet? or the three cocktail hip hop blare
don’t look at my girl like that man its not
that she cant dance, you just don’t know what dance is
the contorted self-wrestle-catharsis-pharisee-jean-rub-free-gene-stumble-stomp-epileptic futuristic & alien,
you smooth you lose, lose my attention
I’m done laughing of yo beat-articulating back-pocket,
melody punctured head-bop school uniform hack
me & my girl are espousing
the new aesthetics for the rest of the universe
but don’t watch us we’ll get more self-conscious and split
split the dancefloor
cause my name is Ornette Korach Coleman Picklejuice Pediatrician
and I’ll heal you, bring some hairy Ashkenazi medicine on yo
smooth little tuchas

Day One: American Dream at The Jewish Museum

17 Mar 2008 In: Artists

We are asking staff and visitors of The Jewish Museum to share their ‘American Dream.’ Here are a few of the pictures we took on Sunday March 16, the opening day of Off the Wall!


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American Dream, March 16-20

17 Mar 2008 In: Artists, March 16-20

American Dream is part of an ongoing, community-based public art project entitled “Casual Conversations” that explores migration, displacement, and assimilation through dialogue and interactions with strangers. We started “Casual Conversations” in 2007 with support from the Six Points Fellowship.

The first version of American Dream was made in a popular Russian language bookstore called “St. Petersburg” in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. We asked shoppers and store staff to share their American Dream with us by writing or drawing it with a magic marker on a “thought bubble”. Why did we use a bookstore? During the Iron Curtain-era, books and films played a very important role in the shaping of an image of the West. Here are some photos:




Off the Wall artists in the press

16 Mar 2008 In: Mobius

Diwon, photo by Set​h Kus​hne​r & Guy​ Ema​nue​l

I must say, this past week has been great on the PR front for various artists participating in the Off the Wall exhibit.

Diwon (a.k.a. Erez Safar or the artist formerly known as DJ Handler), who is providing the musical accompaniment for Levi Okunov’s fashion show next Sunday, March 23, was featured in both the Jewish Week and Jewcy, discussing his rebirth/coming-out as a Yemeni Jewish artist. As the Jewish Week reported:

It was equally natural that The Jewish Museum would approach him to have Diwon perform as part of its “Off the Wall: Artists at Work” project, an open-studio event featuring 11 artists working in many different media, from fashion to video to performance art.

“They told me they were picking artists to dip into their archives and create new works either inspired by or using the archives,” Safar says. “I wanted to find as much Yemenite or Sephardi material as I could. They pulled samples for me and kept sending them. There wasn’t that much in the direction I wanted to go, but I have also a big collection of field recordings and such, rare stuff, and I pull samples from that and add singers and [build it up] from little pieces.”

He is also contributing a visual element to his performance, wearing traditional Yemenite Jewish regalia of the sort normally seen at weddings and other simchas.

“I’ve been working with several singers and Miriam Safri, who has an amazing voice, is bringing garments for me,” he says. “I’ll probably debut them at the museum.”

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Wham, bam, thank you slam

16 Mar 2008 In: Mobius

Poet Jake Marmer performs at Sunday afternoon’s poetry slam

This afternoon’s poetry slam was one of the most fun poetry events I’ve participated in in quite some time. Perhaps it’s because I felt that, even in losing the contest, I’d come away a winner, having shared a stage with poets whom I so admire. But, in fact, I nearly won — much to my surprise — falling mere points behind Alicia Jo Rabins, the event’s victor, who swept the crowd with her charming performances, including a modern musical rendition of an Emily Dickinson classic. As host Matthue Roth noted, had I known I could’ve brought a glockenspiel player…

Sadly, because I was juggling both liveblogging the event and preparing my own poems, I was unable to record any of the readings. However, I have photography aplenty, which you can view online at Off the Wall’s Flickr gallery here. (Don’t forget to share your own photographs from the exhibit, by joining the OtW Flickr group and sending them to the pool.)

Over the next few days, I also hope to share with you some of the poems read by this afternoon’s performers, which also included Jake Marmer, publisher of the poetry journal Mimaamakim, and legendary NYC poet Steve Dalachinsky.

On that note, here is one of the poems I read this afternoon, entitled “Captain Commander and the Wisdom of El Shaddai”:

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Alicia Jo Rabins reinvents the museum tour

16 Mar 2008 In: Mobius

Guests at the Jewish Museum today were treated to a rather unique experience — a musical walking tour of the museum’s permanent collection, hosted by Alicia Jo Rabins, violinist for the klez-punk powerhouse Golem and an accomplished classically-trained musician and poet in her own right.

The “curation” was set to a composition by Alicia Jo entitled “Girls in Trouble” which initially began as her masters thesis in Jewish women’s studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, but which she finished especially for the Off the Wall exhibit. As she guided attendees through the museum, Alica Jo related each of the selections in her composition to various pieces of art and artifact in the Museum’s collection.

When I caught up with Alicia Jo shortly after her performance and asked her what she thought of the experience, she had this to say:

“It was so cool to be doing a non-traditional concert. Even playing a punk show in a punk club is a traditional venue. The idea of making noise in a museum, and of having a concert that actually makes people stand up and move between songs, and that relates each song to visual objects in the room, felt like it was making connections between parts of the brain and the world that are usually separate. It made the audience, to me, feel like a community. It was a happening. We were all having this experience together. It was special for me as a performer. Plus, to play a show in front of a Chagall print, or a 3,000 year old sacrificial alter, is a rare opportunity. Finally, the way the audience participated in the last song — which was a round in which pretty much everyone sang — felt transformative.”

Though we’ll have to wait for the album “Girls in Trouble” to be completed to hear the composition in its full glory, a recording has been made of Alicia Jo’s walking tour which will be made available as a podcast here on the Off the Wall blog within the next day or so. You’ll be able to download it, throw it on your iPod, and listen along as you tour the museum on your own. Check back soon!

Mazel Tov!!

15 Mar 2008 In: Uncategorized

Have a great opening today first week Off the Wallers! And Mazel Tov to our curator Andrew Ingall.Can’t wait to experience it all, Melissa Shiff 

This 2-week open studio project features 11 artists in fashion, music, performance art and video. One regular admission ticket gets you in Sunday - Thursday to watch works-in-progress, meet artists, and attend concerts, salons, runway show, poetry slam, and parties.

March 16-27, 2008
Sun-Wed 11am-5:45pm, Thu 11am-Midnight

Buy tickets
Week 1: March 16 - 20
Week 2: March 23 - 27
One regular admission gets you in all week to watch works in progress, meet artists, attend parties, and more.

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street
New York, NY 10128
More photos in Off the Wall: Artists at Work

Jewcy has provided media support.