Jewish Museum Celebrates Israel’s Birthday

Ruzan Haruriunyan's picture

The Jewish Museum is marking the 60th anniversary of Israel’s founding with a variety of programs featuring Israeli art and artists. Among the highlights are a panel discussion on Israeli and Jewish film on Tuesday, June 3; an exhibition of six Dead Sea Scrolls at the Museum from September 21, 2008 through January 4, 2009; and several exhibitions including the work of contemporary Israeli artists.

In the six decades since Israel became a nation, the creative inspiration of Israeli artists has broadened. While some of today’s painters, photographers, film and video directors, and new media producers employ their art to portray traditional subjects––the Diaspora, the Holocaust––other artists address purely personal issues. Artists have become more cosmopolitan, and the diversity of the Israeli art scene reflects external influences while retaining a special awareness of Israel. Also, in recent years, Israeli art has frequently been exhibited outside of the country. Sotheby’s has developed an annual New York auction of Israeli contemporary art alongside Judaica.

Nearly one-third of the films screened in this year’s New York Jewish Film Festival, presented in January by The Jewish Museum and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, were Israeli. One of these films, Beaufort, which had its NY premiere at the festival, was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Foreign Language Film. Other dramas ranged from a father’s mysterious disappearance in Tehilim to a suspenseful and heartfelt search through the streets of Jerusalem in Someone to Run With. Among the engrossing documentaries was A Hebrew Lesson, which focused on the changing demographics of Israeli immigrants.

On Tuesday, June 3 at 6:30 pm, a panel discussion, But Is It Jewish? Contemplating Contemporary Israeli Cinema, will examine Israeli film and Jewish film. Where do they intersect, and what are the differences? Is all Israeli film Jewish film? Panelists include Uri S. Cohen, Assistant Professor of Hebrew Literature at the Columbia University Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies and filmmaker of a documentary film on Israeli author Ida Fink; David D'Arcy, programmer at the Haifa International Film Festival in Israel and film critic for Screen International and GreenCine.com; and Noah Stollman, screenwriter of Someone to Run With. This program is offered in conjunction with a series of Israeli films presented at The Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center from May 28 to June 5 by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Israel Office of Cultural Affairs in the USA, The Jewish Museum, and the JCC of Manhattan.

An upcoming exhibition will feature artifacts that shed light on ancient worship and religious debates. The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the world’s most famous archaeological discoveries, and three of the six scrolls to be displayed––from September 21, 2008 through January 4, 2009––have never before been shown in New York. Part of one of the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Jeremiah (c. 200), is included. Exhibition visitors will be able to explore what the scrolls tell us about ancient Judaism and early Christianity.

Two video installations by Israeli artists are on view at The Jewish Museum through June 22. Mor Arkadir’s Oil, Water (2005), in the Goodkind Media Center, is a 14-minute film that explores the intersection between the artist’s secular world and her mother’s religious observance. A photograph, Overlap (2004), is also on display. Arkadir was the winner of the 2005 Adi Prize for Jewish Expression in Art and Design. Pomegranate, Ori Gersht’s eerie and painterly video, visually documents the explosive consequences of a bullet penetrating a ripe piece of fruit.

From March 16 through August 3, Art, Image, and Warhol Connections features artists who directly respond to Andy Warhol’s art or employ techniques associated with Warhol’s oeuvre. Israeli-born artist Abshalom Jac Lahav’s work, 48 Jews, takes portraiture into the electronic age; he paints colorful and expressive images pulled from the Internet and other media sources that together comprise a representation of Jews in the Diaspora.

Off the Wall: Artists at Work is an open-studio project with eleven artists working and performing in the galleries of The Jewish Museum for two weeks, from March 16 through 27, 2008. Experimental work in performance art, video, fashion and music is included. Off the Wall’s diverse offerings include artists at work, impromptu discussions, concerts, DJ sets, a poetry slam, a fashion show, and a Purim party. Tali Hinkis, an Israeli artist and member of the interdisciplinary duo LoVid, is creating a multimedia work inspired by tefillin and prayer shawls. An Israeli-born team created the design for the Off the Wall galleries and events: architects Esther Sperber and Guy Zucker, and graphic designer Mushon Zer-Aviv. -- www.thejewishmuseum.org

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