20 Oct 2010
Curator: Dvora Liss
Zimmun is an invitation to join us. Traditionally, when three Jewish men eat together and "break bread" a formal invitation or zimmun must be issued before the Grace after Meals. This custom is based on the principle that participants should be formally invited to take part in a sacred ritual so that the proper mood may be established. I have invited three emerging Jewish artists to the Judaica wing to share their unique interpretations of their own experiences of Judaism. Each artist is grounded in Jewish tradition and offers fresh interpretations of age old traditions. Their works are provocative, humorous, whimsical, and sometimes irreverent.
These artists are steeped in Jewish tradition but walk freely in the secular realm of art and design as well. Two come from the professional world of graphic design and one is an industrial product designer and artist. Their works result from the hybridization of their inner Jewish self with the technically savvy skills they have acquired in their professional lives. Prayer, Talmud study, and Jewish ritual serve as constant sources of inspiration for these artists.
All three were raised in Modern Orthodox homes and were educated in religious institutions. They have met only recently and found kindred spirit in each other. The revival of Jewish tradition is integral to their art, but they also retain the spirit and humour that motivates and permeates their work.
Their art can only be fully understood by people acquainted with the ceremonies and rituals to which they allude.
Ken Goldman has a B.A. in Fine Arts and an M.A. in Industrial design. After graduating from the Pratt Institute in New York in 1982, Ken moved to Kibbutz Shluchot in the Beit Shean valley. He currently designs for two American design firms.
Dov Abramson was born in the U.S. in 1975 and moved to Israel in 1983. He graduated from the graphic design department of the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design in 2002. Dov founded his own design studio in Jerusalem.
Arik Weiss our show's only Sabra, lives in Kfar Adumim. Arik graduated from Wizo Haifa in 1991, and has been working for the past twenty years as a creative art director in marketing and design offices.
The show is situated in the Judaica wing, the museum's only permanent exhibition space. The Museum's founders considered Jewish ceremonial objects integral to the museum collection and looked to Jewish tradition as a foundation for the new Israeli culture which they wished to create.
In order to maintain the vision of the museum founders, the museum has established a new agenda and direction for the Judaica wing - the exhibition of contemporary and relevant Jewish art shows. Zimmun offers a contemporary perspective on Jewish culture and Religion. It offers us a new way of looking at traditional objects and exploring Jewish ideas. The works of the show are exhibited side by side with the objects from the permanent collection, thus creating a dialogue between them. The 19th century Jew from Eastern Europe who lovingly obtained an object to glorify his ritual did it with a love respect and understanding of his religion. His ceremonial object was directly influenced by the cultural heritage of his home and environment. The spice boxes from Poland were inspired by the towers of nearby cities. Similarly, the elaborately designed horseshoe arches of the North African chanukiyot echo the Moorish architecture familiar to North African Jews from their own neighborhood buildings. Each item is constructed in keeping with the strict requirements of Jewish law, but they remain distinct from each other by reflecting the local fashions, styles, and traditions of their geographical origins. Arik, Dov and Ken all create with that same inner understanding and sweet passion for the Jewish experience. While Jewish texts serve as the basis for their creations, their language is that of contemporary art.
In this exhibition these artists dare to ask questions, innovate, and challenge social mores, while trying to make peace with the customs of their homes. Their artwork is a vehicle for their own personal journeys; through it they seek out and forge their Jewish identities and their personal relationships to God. Arik, Ken, and Dov offer us a unique opportunity to rediscover Jewish texts and to join the conversation that their art inspires.