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?' "