This will be the first time in Israel that a museum has organized a major exhibition of Jewish feminist art by women who come from a traditional Jewish background.
Jewish Feminist art shares its themes with feminist art in general. Usually these are familiar subjects, such as power and oppression, body image, women as periphery, object-subject, blood and menstruation, and so on. Feminist Jewish works deal with subjects unique to the Jewish experience: niddah and immersion, hair covering, halakhic questions such as the problem of the agunah or halakhic infertility, women’s prayer, and women in the study hall.
These artists are informed by feminist art and gender discourse but also by traditional Judaism. They actively reexamine and reconstruct the tradition, while placing it in a critical yet constructive light.
Among the group of talented artists from Israel, North America and Europe the exhibition will showcase two well-known American artists who were pioneers in the field. Helène Aylon (b. 1931) will travel from New York to install her show. Helène is a prominent eco-feminist and in the 80s was involved in environmental activism. In the 90s she turned a feminist eye on to God and the Torah and she will exhibit three installations at Ein Harod. Mierle Laderman-Ukeles (b. 1939) is well known for her Maintenance art of the 70s. In 1969 she wrote Manifesto for Maintenance Art that questioned binary systems of opposition that articulate differences between art/life, nature/culture, and public/private. The manifesto proposed undoing boundaries that separate the maintenance of everyday life from the role of an artist in society. In 1977 she first performed Mikva dreams- A Performance part of Maintenance Art Tales at Franklin Furnace, New York. She will be showing two prints from the performance.
Matronita invites the viewer to reflect on the complexities of the feminist Jewish experience as the artists work at reconciling Jewish law and feminism.