Statements by the artists:
Ellen Alt: LOVE OR HATE THY NEIGHBOR: Two Roads Diverge
Religion is a set of beliefs, often with contradictory messages. Proponents of violence and seekers of peace find quotes within their own scripture to support their views. The same is true for leaders talking about their neighbor’s religions. White supremacists (often Christian) stir up anti-Semitism and racism, while Muslims target Christians in the Middle East and Muslims are targeted in the West.
As an antidote, places of worship have joined with “hate has no home here” to clearly and publicly state that religion will not be used against another’s beliefs, at least within these four walls.
I have created 5 mixed media pieces: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Each is about how faith manifests into belief and how religions influence each other towards tolerance or hate.
Audrey Anastasi: Isaac Woodard Jr. was blinded while still in uniform, returning by bus, from WWII, by South Carolina police, a hate crime that shocked the country and spurred the civil rights movement.
Shoshannah Brombacher, PhD: Ever since Trump was elected president there has been a surge in hate crimes, antisemitic “incidents”, and racist bigots coming out of the woodwork. Bigots are from all times and all societies, but hate speech and polarizing society in “us and them”, i.e., the foreigners, the immigrants, all the people whose “true patriotic feelings” are doubted because they are too liberal, too leftwing, or too whatever, has led to what greatly diminishes America, the traditional melting pot, instead of making it great again. What hate speech can lead to we have seen in Charlottesville and many other places. It is an eery reminder of how things started in Germany. Give the bigots space and tools and they will use them, encouraged by hate speech.
Dorit Jordan Dotan: Women are portrayed in the media as either doll-like objects or the opposite. The mixed messages about women are blatantly confusing, allowing malicious gossip to punish us no matter how we are seen.
Chana Wiesenthal Elias: AWNM: Semitic AF coopts the story and rituals of the holiday Purim with American secular practices and politics to highlight power structures that continue to repeat themselves throughout religious and non-religious histories. Since biblical times, leaders have often exploited people’s fear of the unfamiliar to categorize, dehumanize, and unify one group against another.
Semitic AF flips that division on its head by replacing the victimized Jews of Persia accounted in the Purim story, with the persecuted Muslims living in today’s highly xenophobic America and Europe. Set in this apocalyptic year of 2017, Shrago-Spechler reinterprets and expands the tropes and conventions of Purim by telling the story of persecuted peoples, collective punishment, and sexualized heroines through music, performance, an illustrated Megillah leaflet, and interactive installations. Submitted to “The Consequences of Hate Speech” is the second in a series of five sequential drawings featured in a contemporary Megilat Ester made for A Whole New Megillah 2017; and a print that replicates President Trump’s Executive Order 13769 that banned Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from traveling to the United States, onto a roll of toilet paper. Uploaded in a second submission are paintings from “Semitic Semiotics”; a series that references the multilingual signs in Israel, encouraging a discourse around the cultural power of language, and the possibility of understanding language as a means to further understand one another.
Alan Falk: “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Kushite woman that he had taken, for he had taken a Kushite wife.”
In this interpretation of the biblical narrative, a parallel is drawn between Miriam’s remark against Moses and his Kushite (Nubian or Ethiopean) wife to her punishment of tza-ra-at (an affliction that whitened her skin) as a moral warning against acts of malicious gossip (Lashon Hara) and bigotry.
Charlotte Hart: Torn: You kill me with your words, you kill me with your silence.
Erling Hope: One of a series of works exploring dynamics of the word “Kafir”. This is the Arabic word for “unbeliever,” often translated as “infidel”, (from the root K-F-R “to cover”). Islamic traders with non-Islamic sub-Saharan Africans came to call them by this epithet, which was later picked up by white Afrikaners and became the South African N-word. So it is a word of hate, a word of scorn, but also a word about belief.
As a person of faith—as a skeptical person of faith—I have been torn and fascinated by the ways that belief can undermine faith for individuals, and the ways belief has become a central destructive force of our time. Belief in tribal / racial supremacy, belief in religious exclusivism, un-belief in science and climate change, belief in conspiracy theories, etc.. Conspiracy theories in particular preoccupy me. The traction they have in the neo-fascist movements in the West is only matched by their tenacity in the Islamic world. “Kafir” —unbeliever— engages all these dynamics.
But there is also a sense that these properties are inherent to humanity, that they are part of a larger pattern of life in a competitive evolutionary context. Humans are built to “other” others. We are at a moment when the question of how and whether we can transcend this instinct is a living and urgent one. Is it a question of suppressing or burying this impulse (K-F-R: “to cover”)? Of rising above our human nature? Or is it a matter of finding ways to engage, acknowledge, and redeem this faculty, of blessing our human / animal nature, and what could that possibly mean?
Yohana Junker: In this work, I juxtapose a topographic and a seismic map of the location of the White House in Washington, D.C. so as to visually posit 45’s occupation of presidential office as one of the epicenters of the catastrophe of hate speech in the U.S.
Words–not lines–will delineate and outline the map. These words will draw from Trump’s exact pronouncements made publicly over the past year as well as mentions of particular passages of the Bible to underscore how “Christian” speech has been instrumentalized to normalize discriminatory and hateful speech. In the last 6 months, for example, Trump has pronounce the following: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people [immigrants] are. These aren’t people. These are animals,” or “can you imagine these people–these animals over in the Middle East that chop off heads,” as well as “and this is why we call the bloodthirsty MS-13 gang members exactly the name that I used last week. What was the name? [unidentified crowd]: Animals!”
This word-map will visually articulate how 45 speech permits and normalizes hate and will demonstrate how seemingly abstract and “harmless” words actually move across the landscape and enters into houses, circulates through bodies. I want to raise questions of whether we can read and identify the severity of these seismic “Hate Speech” waves and which kinds of traces they leave in our communities. I want to reveal socio-cultural processes that are normally hidden beneath physical mappings. Finally, I want viewers to partake in the imaginative making of this work to think of how Hate Speech circulates in their own realities–how it comes out from their mouths. The intention is to connect people, words, landscapes, and navigational maps so that we can call forth our sense of response-ability–the ability to “respond” to the urgencies of our times, finding new language to move forward in solidarity, resistance, and change of speech-acts.
Rachel Kanter: “…and the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and warn them to stay pure today and tomorrow. Let them wash their clothes.” Exodus 19:10
“Laundry” is about washing clothes as a form of purification. The sexist, disparaging words that are embroidered on each of the women’s tallit katan are in the process of being washed out and removed. The dye in the thread stains the undergarments just as these hurtful words that are said every day to women leave a mark on them.
Jennifer Anne Moses: The theme of “America” is fear, and the violence that springs from fear. The large figure on the right brandishes a gun while the people inside the house cower and pray as a spray of bullets wafts over the house and a spray of words fills the air, hovering over both victims and aggressor.
In “Don’t Mess With God,” I take up the theme of the Jewish Exodus as it relates to the “slogans” surrounding the dehumanizing of the Egyptian Jews. The Jews carry God-centric slogans on their way to freedom as figures of pharaonic power send out spurts of demeaning rhetoric, themselves surrounded by biblical verses. Which version of speech prevails? In the painting, the Hebrew are on their way to freedom but, not having yet arrived, are surrounded by blood-red waves.
Munroe Nazanin: “Layli” is one of 5 digital drawings in a series about women from Persian literature; the images of these idealized women are juxtaposed against a background of translated Persian poetry by a 14th c. female poet, whose work questions the nature of people’s hatred and jealousy. The second works are garments, displayed on dressmaker forms, which deal with the idea of words/speech as talismans; the garments are meant to protect the wearer from the evil eye and behavior, based on 16th-17th c. Persian talismanic garments. The white garment with Rumi poetry is overlaid with a figure in a gesture of supplication, praying for protection through the poetry. The black garment displays the Khamsa, a protective symbol that is used in various iconographic forms in both Judaism and Islam, and lights up in response to the proximity of the viewer: further distance is indicated by green lights; as the viewer approaches, light turn yellow and red and blink, indicating alarm on the part of the wearer. These garments will be photographed on live models this summer, by the California ocean and in NYC respectively. Can be displayed as digital images, framed, 20″ x 24″ framed.
Trix Rosen: Aimed at a man’s perceived sexuality, “faggot” is hate speech encapsulated into a word. It is a dreaded and sometimes deadly taunt. My gay men friends have had “faggot” terrifyingly yelled out from cars, hissed as a threatening name on the street and offensively spray-painted as a slur on their school lockers. Faggot is meant to humiliate, bully, insult, assault and target an individual. The consequences of hate speech can be grave, as seen in the murder of gay men around the world. Last year in the United States, hate crimes were the deadliest on record for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Seventy-two countries criminalize consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex and it is punishable by death in eight countries.
Frank Sabatte: Both works are based on photographs of two of the victims of the Khmer Rouge genocide in the 70’s. Photographs were taken of these children before they were killed, usually by being thrown out of a window. Hate speech is scapegoating and those who scapegoat are blind to what they do. Hate speech that is “normalized” or “legitimized” is required for genocides to happen. When hate speech is no longer seen as hate but as rational then it becomes powerful and terrifying.
Phillip Schwartz: This piece is part of a series of non-traditional icons done in a style reminiscent of Eastern Orthodox Christian Iconography. This piece is done based on public domain photographs in the image collection of The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It illustrates the very worst that has happened as a result of hate speech. The mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust is an example of where hate speech ultimately leads if allowed to go unanswered and unchecked.
Joel Silverstein: “Lashon Hara” is squarely about “hate speech” but also gossip, negativity and ranchor . I look at myself with utmost candor and through a spiritual struggle try to stifle these negative impulses, or at least understand them. My thought is that hate speech’ begins at home and how you represent yourself to others is the hallmark of how you wish to be treated. i also remember in my past how observant Jews in the Brooklyn would sport bumper stickers on their cars stating, ” Put the Brakes on Loshon Hora!!!! Wise advice!
Ali Shrago-Spechler: “Schmuck”, oil on panel, is part of “Semitic Semiotics”; a series that references the multilingual signs in Israel, encouraging a discourse around the cultural power of language, and the possibility of understanding language as a means to further understand one another. The word “Shmuck” is translated into Hebrew and Arabic, showing that vulgar speech can build both cultural bridges and borders.
“Jon Stewart Recalls His Passover Tragedy” explores the isolation felt in religious tribalism. Part of a series of paintings called “Maccababies” that pulls from screenshots of American cartoons that reference Judaism. This is taken from an episode of nineties show “Dr. Katz”, wherein Jon Stewart recalls the effects that the divisive nature of ritualism had on his childhood.
Leslie Tucker: “Where I Am There You May Be Also”. This work is from my DEVOTIONAL series, an inquiry into Technology and Moral Panic. A moral panic is a feeling of fear spread among a large number of people that some evil threatens the well-being of society. This work examines the tumultuous relationship between Twitter and hate speech, whereby Twitter is admittedly walking a tightrope between the idealism of free speech and verifiable monsters.
Vitaly Umansky: This work shows a progression from a heated discussion on social media to radicalization and acts of violence.
Joyce Ellen Weinstein: People are often witnesses to hate speech and abhorrent behavior. When you are blinded by your own agenda it is impossible to see or act upon what is morally indefensible.