Billha Zussman presents “HINENI & EINENI: Sieving and being sieved; images from my bible notebook”. Zussman’s bible notebook, a patchwork of household kitchen symbols and objects, explores “Why aren’t Billha and Zilpah counted as Jewish matriarchs?”
Yehudis Barmatz-Harris and Elinora Schwartz present “Bright Moon – Dark Coffee: Exhibition Tour at Beita, Jerusalem”. The hour of darkness, black as coffee, is the time of legends and tales before sleep, reflections and dreams (Barmatz-Harris), and attending to the body, its desires, memories, and its pain (Schwartz). Curated by Avital Naor Wexler.
Hosted by Goldie Gross and Yona Verwer. Organized by Yona Verwer for the Jewish Art Salon; co-sponsored by JADA Art. Recorded June 2020.
Hineni & Eineni Bilhah the “unworried” is a person mentioned in the book Genesis. She is described as Laban’s handmaid, who was given to Rachel to be her handmaid on Rachel’s marriage to Jacob. When Rachel fails to have children she gave Bilhah to Jacob “to wife” to bear him children. Rachel and Leah are included in the Jewish Women Pantheon; their handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah are excluded. We have six matriarchs, mothers of the 12 tribes. The erasure of Bilhah and Zilpah from our traditional consciousness is an emblem of the exclusion of marginalized women in society. They are handmaids, transparant; they are not concerned human beings; sort of a barcode of womb for hire. The status of Bilhah and Zilpah in the Bible is called in Hebrew : PILEGESH – PELEG ISHA which translates into half woman.
ABOUT Bright Moon – Dark Coffee
The exhibition functions as two solo exhibitions, sparking points of inspiration among them.
Yehudis Barmatz-Harris and Elinora Schwartz create their art differently through their outlooks and search, however it is true for both, that their work comes alive as night falls: when all is quiet, and personal memories, or such recollections inherited from generations gone by, drift to the surface and penetrate the consciousness.
The hour of darkness, black as coffee, is the time of legends and tales before sleep, reflections and dreams (Barmatz-Harris), and attending to the body, its desires, memories, and its pain (Schwartz). During those nocturnal moments of silence, when the world appears empty and man feels alone, yet at the same time connected to a cosmic reality, the light of the moon is revealed once in a while, hinting at the promise of clear, bright hope to hold on to.
Bright Moon: Yehudis Barmatz-Harris alludes to four childhood stories, each one symbolizing a different time period and stage of life for her. In each of these stories, alongside an innocent reality, lurks a threatening shadow and symbolic figure: the moon, an old man, and a boat, whose purpose is to shed light and ward off fear. The stories offer a glimpse into relationships with various adults, especially the mother and father, who carry the weight of painful family memories passed down through the generations until finding their voice and place in Barmatz-Harris’s art. The four stories portray the transition from girl, to young woman, to adult.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Israeli-born BILLHA ZUSSMAN studied graphic art in Amsterdam where she still lives and works. Her work has been exhibited in the 2017 Jerusalem Biennale. She is the initiator and co-curator of the exhibition Spinoza: Marrano of Reason in Amsterdam. She works at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam at the education department. Some of Billha’s short videos on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkW12gdXFGk
YEHUDIS BARMATZ-HARRIS (b. Boston 1985) lives in Southeast Israel and works in new-media, assemblage, and installation. She holds a BFA from the Pratt Institute, New York, and a MART from Leslie College, Israel. As a Hasidic Jew, Yehudis is inspired by mysticism in artists such as Hilma of Klimt, while her methods are born out of American ecofeminist, process art movements. Her work focuses on the nexus of individual and community and embraces an identity as essential to artistic expression. Yehudis has exhibited in Israel, the United States and in Europe. http://yehudisbarmatz.com
ELINORA SCHWARTZ (b. 1960, Ramat Hasharon), a graduate of The Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, exchanged her life as a secular dancer and actress from Ramat Hasharon, for living in a Yiddish-speaking, Haredi community in Jerusalem. Over recent years, she has returned to working as a clandestine artist. She joined the Studio of Her Own, and recently graduated from Musrara, where she was a student in the photography department.