At The First Jerusalem Biennale: Jewish Artists Are Casting Away And Gathering Stones

As part of the Jerusalem Biennale events, last night, 23 September 2013, about 80 Jerusalemites attended the “Ancient Texts and Contemporary Art” panel discussion. Artists Andi Arnovitz, David Moss, Ken Goldman, Ruth Schreiber and Mordechai Beck were the panelists who presented some of their works and commented on the nexus between Jewish sources, inspiration and modern issues. As the artists spoke and we viewed their work, I particularly connected to Andi Arnovitz’s “My Worry Beads” and Ken Goldman’s “Kaddish Stones”. 
As I listened to these two artists, I recalled The Byrds version of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 3:1-8, the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” because we Jews have just read Kohelet as part of the celebration of Sukkot (The Festival of Booths).  
Andi Arnovitz shared that her variable size installation “My Worry Beads” brings together all of her worries particularly those she feels as a Jewish-American-Israeli artist: “Here in Israel we take everything personally, everything is very personal and happens to me.” Arnovitz succeeds in connecting to the very Israeli characteristic of shared worries which bind us as a people and nation while at the same time pointing out how worry is temporary in nature. While listening to Arnovitz I thought of the line “A time to gather stones” (Kohelet 3:5) and felt the heavy fullness of life in Israel.  But unlike Arnovitz I want to let go of my worry beads and seek out the positive energy which exists here in this Land of shared dreams were we are all working towards fulfilling the dream of real and true peace.  
Andi Arnovitz "My Worry Beads" taken from http://www.andiarnovitz.com/

Andi Arnovitz “My Worry Beads” taken from http://www.andiarnovitz.com/

I began feeling that release from worry as I listened to Ken Goldman share that in his project  “Kaddish Stones” he had engraved all 79 words of the mourners “Kaddish*” on stones that he had collected from the fields around his home at Kibbutz Shluchot.  His intention is for these stones to be distributed to people who will be visiting various sites related to the Holocaust of Jews throughout Europe. His engraved stones are meant to be left behind and in the future they will attract the eye of other visitors who will pick them up and utter the word inscribed on them. As more stones are lifted and read a virtual “Kaddish” will be created and will continually pay respectful tribute to the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Goldman’s work encapsulates and balances between the temporary nature of man and our prayer, and the permanent nature of G-d. His work brought into clear focus the line “A time to cast away stones” (Kohelet 3:5), with the realization that in repeating the sentences of praise and glorification to G-d we are moving forward towards peace while at the same time honoring the memory of all that has gone on before our own time.  
Ken Goldman's "Kaddish Stones" taken from http://www.kengoldmanart.com/index.html

Ken Goldman’s “Kaddish Stones” taken from http://www.kengoldmanart.com/index.html

Arnovitz and Goldman’s works joined together to form both an echo of Kohelet 3:5 which is connected to Sukkot and to the Succah (Booth) itself which is both seasonally temporary, but annually permanent through its appearance in the Jewish holiday cycle.  

 
*Kaddish: Jewish Prayer in which we glorifying G-d and pray for peace.
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For more information about The Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art running between 15 September and 31 October 2013 please visit their site at: http://jerusalembiennale.org/
For more about Ken Goldman: http://www.kengoldmanart.com/index.html
    
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