Thou Shall Not: New Exhibition at Museum on the Seam

Thou Shall Not 1

 

Judaism and Art: Friends or Foes?

This is the question at the heart of “Thou Shall Not,” a new exhibit at Museum on the Seam. The exhibit brings together works by secular and Jewish artists that explore topics related to creativity, Jewish texts and modern Jewish identity. Some names, such as Micha Ullman, Yair Garbuz and Moshe Gershuni, will be familiar, but the exhibit’s brilliance lies in placing their works next to those of less-known artists from the religious world, including ultra-Orthodox artists who refused to be identified by name, afraid of the social repercussions they would face if it were known they were exhibiting their works in a “secular” museum.

One of the exhibit’s strongest works was by one such artist - a woman licking letters of honey, emblematic of the world of Torah learning closed off to ultra-Orthodox women. The exhibit also included a beautiful feather item from Andi Arnovitz, which could be used in place of a live chicken for pre-Yom Kippur atonement rituals (“kapparot”), along with the full list of “sins” committed by the modern woman.

Highlights also included an interesting video art installation about the creation of woman that melds Jewish sources with Hindu iconography, as well as a video of women in white, walking through basins of blood, a silent protest against the process of nidah observed by Orthodox women, who refrain from physical contact with their spouses during menstruation and must visit a ritual bath to resume relations.

Some of the strongest protest art came from religious artists, while the work from the secular artists posed the question - how do we, in a modern society, take these ancient traditions and make them meaningful to our lives and our creations?

These dilemmas, the balance between tradition and individual expression, haunt all human beings who choose to live within the constraints of a society, for there is a constant tension between our existence as social beings and our existence as individuals. By exploring this tension, the exhibit cuts to the core of human existence, creating a beautiful and harrowing experience that is highly recommended.

The Jerusalem Foundation is proud to support cutting-edge contemporary arts in this ancient city of beautiful contradictions, building upon its rich past to pave the way for its thriving future.

Museum on the Seam: 4 Chel Hahandassa Street, Jerusalem, 91016
Opening hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 10 am to 5 pm.
Tuesday: 2 pm to 8 pm.
Friday: 10 am to 2 pm.