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Jerusalem Biennale in NY

Jewish Art Salon, Jerusalem Biennale, Dr. Bernard Heller Museum, and American Sephardi Federation invite you to:

Dr. Bernard Heller Museum

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion 

One West Fourth Street, New York, NY 

The Jerusalem Biennale, scheduled to open on November 9 in Israel, has been postponed due to the war. Instead, it will open some of its scheduled exhibitions internationally on November 9 in the home cities of its artists and curators, including Rome, London, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, and New York.  

The Heller Museum will feature selections of two exhibitions, all by Jewish Art Salon members:

ACTIVATE – A New York Woman’s Perspective by: Siona Benjamin, Yona Verwer, Joan Roth, Chelsea Steinberg-Gay, Goldie Gross, Ronit Levin Delgado, curated by Hadas Glazer.

THE SEVENTEEN Iron Flock, by Archie Rand, curated by Samantha Baskind.

ACTIVATE: A New York Women’s Perspective features the work of six NY artists, whose divergent art practices together investigate the complexities of life as a woman today. 

Exploring physical and political power, this show centers systemic, holistic, female-driven change. Each in their own way, the artists explore the multifaceted expressions of feminine power amidst complex and fraught socio-political dynamics tied to bodies and heritage, intimacy and otherness, sex and religion. 

From performance to documentation, some of the artworks depict women’s activisms, while others are the activators themselves.

Through the use and exploration of feminine symbols such as Lilith, Women of the Wall, Statue of Liberty, and Jewish themes of Tikkun HaYam (heal the oceans), and Kol Isha, and the current Israeli hostage crisis, the artists both activate and reactivate the themes and space.

THE SEVENTEEN: Among the women featured in the loosely painted, electrically charged canvases are the well-recognized, such as Sarah and Ruth, and the lesser known, such as Asenath and Rahab. Iron Flock is a continuation of Rand’s forty-year artistic enterprise, exploring the Bible and Jewish texts in serialized paintings conceptually informed by twentieth-century culture. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, and Bibliothèque Nationale de France, among many others. 

Statement by our ACTIVATE curator, Hadas Glazer, Tel Aviv:

Unlike my usual curatorial writings, today, on November 6, 2023, a month after the harrowing events of October 7 shook Israel and the global Jewish community, I choose to convey this message in a deeply personal manner. On this day, we had originally planned to set up the artworks for “ACTIVATE” at the Jerusalem Theater Gallery in anticipation of the grand Jerusalem Biennale. Yet, as I gaze at these artworks through mere digital representations on my computer screen, my heart is heavy with sorrow.

The calamitous toll of this war, marked by countless human, national, and global tragedies, has cast a shadow over our ability to celebrate art. In today’s Israel, celebrating art has become a luxury we can ill afford. Nevertheless, it’s vital to understand that this war has not robbed art of its intrinsic power, particularly not the kind of activist, profoundly motivating art showcased in this exhibition.

In these trying times, we find solace in the meaning of art. A poignant experience awaited me during a visit to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which has become the base for the families of hostages and a hub for protests. Here, artists have erected activist installations, like the “Hostages Shabbat Dinner Table,” and performers have lent their voices in gentle harmony. It’s here that I witnessed the true potential of art—to help us, at the rear of this war, confront, share, and express our deepest personal and collective emotions. 

This power of art is evident in the process of grieving and in the multitude of remarkable artworks created in response to the horrors of October 7. It manifests in the way art can retell stories, reshape narratives, and create new symbols, much like the art gallery in Be’eri, reduced to rubble but with its inspiring curators, Sofie Berzon MacKie and Ziva Yalin, who have been through the horrors and yet, they are determined to craft a new story. Art also gives voice to the silenced, shouting out what we need to learn and understand, as seen in the public installations worldwide that demand attention to the hostages.

The therapeutic and healing space created by art is a sanctuary for countless artists, children, parents, and elders. In the hundreds of workshops, lessons, shows, and concerts that artists now offer to those who have lost their homes, art proves its importance as mental first aid, and remarkable ability to mend and console.

From my personal perspective, it’s challenging to celebrate art today, because art has been recruited to the collective fight; and yet it demonstrates how essential it is to our culture, lives, and also personal souls. I am grateful that this exhibition is opening on its original date, November 9, as all the works were conceived long before we could fathom the horrors we face today. It serves as a powerful testament to art’s capacity to motivate and activate us, urging us to take action and effect real change in the world—a positive message we all desperately need.

Joseph Beuys once said, “Every man is an artist,” recognizing the creative potential within us all. He saw art as a tool to engage individuals in shaping the world, particularly in the aftermath of war. I believe the artists who activate us are the ones who make this transformation possible, catalyzing a profound process of healing.

Hadas Glazer

November 6, 2023

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