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ART NEWS - APRIL 2002

 

JEWISH ARTISTS ON THE EDGE - YESHIVA UNIVERSITY MUSEUM
By Charles Ruas

 

(Excerpt)

...Elvis in Jerusalem, which shows two Elvis impersonators, one young, one old, on opposite sides of a crowded McDonald's, ignored by everyone.
Others explore identity through social context. Julie Dermansky and Georg Steinbock's video installation addresses our conflicting emotions as we watch people eat at the Auschwitz Museum Cafe. Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid eloquently evoke exile and hope by paralleling their departure from Russia and the biblical Exodus in the drawings and model for their Temple for the Third Exodus from Russia: Remains of the Temple (1997). Certain works speak about personal faith in a secular world, revealing the spiritual in ordinary things, as do Judy Jerz's 1999 photos of her family floating in the Dead Sea, or Madelin Coit's The Big Bamboo 1999) showing lines of a poem on the slats of a venetian blind, only becoming visible when the blinds are shut.
Finally, Geoffrey Laurence's painting of a skeleton wearing a prayer shawl and stand ing beside a Nazi officer powerfully and directly addresses the Holocaust. Judy Chicago and her husband, Donald Wood man, look at it more obliquely in their painting-and-photographic work The Banality of Evil/Struthof (1989). In this disarming piece, the artists re-create history, juxtaposing Germans and peasants drinking at a local inn as Jews are being beaten and led to the gas chamber across the kilometers from the Natzweiller tion camp in Alsace-Lnffaine. Ironically, it's the pho tography that looks dreamlike and the painting real, underscoring the incomprehensibility of the situation.
-Charles Ruas

 
ERRATUM - JUNE 2002
 
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