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JEWISH ARTISTS ON THE EDGE - FALL 2001

 

CATALOGUE NOTES TO THE EXHIBITION
By Prof. Ori.Z.Soltes Published by Yeshiva Universtity Museum, NY

 
 

extract from catalogue notes - CHAPET IV 'THE EDGES OF CONNECTION'

"If we are to move forward, we must reform as much as conserve, as Judaism has repeatedly done through its history, if we are not to further marginalize the female half of the Jewish world and render the task of continuity that much more challenged (and, the artist adds, makes a posthumous victory for Hitler that much easier).


Reflection on the place of those on the margins of Judaism within its traditional structures is not only a concern of Jewish women artists. Geoff Laurence's triptych, "T'fitlah"‑meaning "Prayer"‑breaks the body of a woman into three discontinuous parts, around each of which is wrapped the leather thong of the phylactery box, which a pious Jewish male wraps around his aim and forehead for the daily morning prayer, literally fulfilling the Torah injunction to "bind it for a sign upon thy hand and place it as a frontlet between thine eyes". Those prayers include words thanking God "that He did not make me a woman". Thus the generalized issue of women as commodities (bodies made of parts without souls within them) and the specifics of woman‑exclusion or even negativity toward women in specific corners of Jewish ritual are intriguingly interwoven with the suggestion of contemporary sexual mores: the nipple ring reinforces the notion that the leather thong plays a role in sexual bondage, which then becomes a pun regarding gender bondage and "binding it,.. upon thy hand" in traditional Jewish settings. Which are the ties that bind and which are those that bound?' "

 
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