The artist duo LoVid works to develop Retzuot, a mixed-media project inspired by prayer shawls and tefillin, a ritual object comprised of two boxes containing parchment inscribed with biblical verses bound to worshippers by leather straps. Retzuot features handmade hardware, video-generating sculptural synthesizers, hand-sewn and knotted patchworks, and a media performance featuring live abstract video and sound. The product, both interactive and wearable, offers a new perspective on performative aspects of ritual, the potential for harnessing creativity and spirituality through technology, and the relationship between abstract audiovisuals and language-based prayer.
Fashion designer Levi Okunov is one of the fashion industry’s rising stars.Â His Fall 2008 line, which features pieces inspired by The Jewish Museum’s renowned Torah Art and Hanukkah lamp collections, incorporates materials such as velvet and parchment to suggest textures and forms associated with traditional Judaica.Â The lining of several pieces feature stenciled and painted texts by the 13th century Persian poet Rumi translated into English, Arabic, and Yiddish.Â These passages represent the artist’s wish for religious tolerance and cultural co-existence.
Melissa Shiff will create JAMS: The Jewish Animated Mandala Series using the Hebrew God’s seven names and imagery from the museum’s traditional Judaica collection. A hybrid of traditional calligraphic mizrachs, Jewish ritual objects that orient the worshipper towards Jerusalem, and Tibetan mandalas, symbols of the universe that aid in meditation, Shiff will daily create and project videos intended not only to inspire trance-like meditation, but also, in transforming ritual objects into abstract forms, to provide an aesthetic experience. JAMS draws connections between Judaism and Buddhism developed by spiritual seekers during the Beat era, psychedelia of the late 1960s, and rave culture of the past twenty years. Shiff will offer examples of JAMS as mp3 downloads from the museum’s website.
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Socalled transforms the gallery into a recording studio to compose Pink Hamentashen, a collection of queer-themed party music inspired by Purim, the holiday that celebrates the heroics of Queen Esther who hid her Jewishness and then revealed it in order to save Persian Jewry. Purim is a carnival in which revelers honor Estherâ€™s feats by masquerading to blur identity linesâ€”a notion that resonates with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. Socalled premieres these holiday sounds at the Pink Hamentashen Purim Party on the evening of March 20 at The Jewish Museum.
Evan Tapper’s video She’asani Kirtzono, is titled after the morning prayer for girls that thanks God for “making me according to Your will”â€”a benediction that the artist found misogynistic as a Hebrew school student. Using a split screen, Tapper recites a monologue on one side, and features a series of female J-Date profiles on the other. The video references the division of men and women in traditional worship and the alienating effects of his early religious education.
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.