Reinventing Ritual

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October 21, 2009
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Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life on view at The Jewish Museum in NYC September 13, 2009 - February 7, 2010 AND at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco April 22 –September 28, 2010

Exhibition curator: Daniel Belasco, Henry J. Leir Assistant Curator at The Jewish Museum

Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life surveys the avant-garde design of objects and art that renew Jewish practices. Contemporary artists around the world are exploring Judaism as a vital, multicultural, and contradictory force. They seek common values and authentic experiences to render Jewish practices open and inclusive. The process of reinventing ritual is defined by the urge to strip rituals down to their essentials and reconceive them to speak to contemporary issues – creating everything from a comix version of the Book of Esther to video prayer garments to an environmentalist synagogue building. In the works in this exhibition, the dominant style is hybrid in nature, a result of the remixing of ritual and everyday life. The new art calls attention to and ultimately questions the way we live our lives, through an emphasis on functionality and tangibility. Artists, moving beyond identity politics and the culture wars, are grounding their work in things shared by all people, like food, clothing, and the environment. The nearly sixty works in Reinventing Ritual envision a more sustainable and harmonious future, where identity is indelibly connected to action, not image.

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