CONSTRUCTING AND DECONSTRUCTING JEWISH ART
Bar-Ilan University and Israel Science Foundation
The Bar-Ilan Journal of Jewish Art
The Michael J. Floersheim Memorial for Jewish Art
Monday September 7
Bar-Ilan University, Building 905 (Jim Joseph Educational Building,
Yosef Ben-Shimon School of Education)
Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, President, Bar-Ilan University
Prof. Miriam Faust, Rector, Bar-Ilan University
Prof. Elie Assis, Dean, the Faculty of Jewish Studies
William L. Gross, Ars Judaica Editorial Board
Dr. Ilia Rodov, Chair, the Department of Jewish Art
11:00-13:00 Session 1 (Bld. 905 room 62): Jewish Place and Identity
Chair: Daniel Sperber
Ziva Amishai-Maisels, The Hebrew University, Jewish Layers of Feminist Struggle: Ayana Friedman
Larry Silver, University of Pennsylvania, Barnett Newman and the Representation of Jewish Place
Ruti Rubenstein, Ben-Gurion University, Michael Sgan-Cohen's Secular-Jewish Art: Israeli Perception and Reception
Asaf Friedman, Bezalel Academy, A "Critical View" Theory of Jewish Art: Identity and Independence
14:30-16:30 Session 2a (Bld. 905 room 62): Visual Multiculturalism
Chair: Elisheva Revel-Neher
Shalom Sabar, The Hebrew University, Strategies for Collecting and Researching Jewish Visual Ephemera
Daniela Schmid, Dr Ariel Muzicant Collection, Vienna, Jewish Amulets from Eastern Europe: A Multicultural Approach
Eugeny Kotlyar, Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts, “Jewish Baroque” as a Paradigm of Eastern European Jewry
Sergey R. Kravtsov, Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University, Polish-Jewish Art History Discourse: From Karol Maszkowski to Zofia Ameisenowa
14:30-16:30 Session 2b (Bld. 905 room 61): Expanding the Methodological Toolbox: Modern and Contemporary Contexts
Chair: Ziva Amishai-Maisels
Ben Schachter, Saint Vincent College, Pittsburgh, PA, What is Artistic in Jewish Thought? Turning the Question Around
Mor Presiado, Bar-Ilan University, Jewish Art as Autobiography: Reconstructing Life Stories of Holocaust Survivors
Eliya Bartal, Bar-Ilan University, Charm of Influences: the Constructive Element of "Influence” in Israeli Art
David Sperber, Bar-Ilan University, Phenomenological Qualitative Methods in the Study of Jewish Art
16:30-17:00 Coffee Break
17:00-18:30 Session 3 (Bld. 905 room 62): The “Artless Jew” Discourse
Chair: Annette Weber
Katherine Aron-Beller, The Hebrew University, “The Jew as a Desecrator of Images": Unexplored Context and Jewish Aniconism
Péter Lánchidi, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg, The Aesthetics of Artlessness: European Jewry's Evolving Aesthetic Consciousness
Alice Buschmeier, Zentrum Jüdische Studien, Berlin-Brandenburg, Critique of the Image in Jewish Thought: A Source for Art Theory?
Tuesday September 8
10:00-11:30 Session 4a (Bld. 905 room 62): Migrating Texts and Images
Chair: Katrin Kogman-Appel
Elodie Attia-Kay, Heidelberg University, Between Visual and Textual : Towards a Typology of Hebrew Micrography in Western Europe
Batsheva Goldman-Ida, Tel Aviv Museum, Breaking it Apart: Visual Kabbalah and the End of Semantics
Emile Schrijver (in absentia), University of Ansterdam, The Decorated Jewish Printed Book: Shifting Paradigms and New Sources
10:00-11:30 Session 4b (Bld. 905 room 61): Between Politics and Culture
Chair: Maya Balakirsky-Katz
Efraim Sicher, Ben-Gurion University, Revisioning Modernism: Avant-Garde Jewish Responses to Pogroms and Revolution, 1912-1925
Anat Falbel, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil, A Dialogue on Jewish Art: Zygmund Turkow and Lasar Segall
Maya Balakirsky-Katz, Touro College, NY, Drawing the Iron Curtain: Rethinking Jewish Presence in Soviet Visual Culture
11:30-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-14:00 Session 5a (Bld. 905 room 62): Expanding the Methodological Toolbox: Medieval and Early Modern Contexts
Chair: Mor Presiado
Ephraim Shoham-Steiner, Ben-Gurion University, Lions, Snakes, a Rabbi and a Parnas: the Cologne Synagogue Artwork Debate
Eva Frojmovic, University of Leeds, Christian Illuminators, Jewish Patrons and the Gender of the Jewish Book
Sara Offenberg, Bar-Ilan University, Divide and Conquer: Deconstructing "Jewishness" and Reconstructing Contextual Meaning
Zvi Orgad, Bar-Ilan University, "Judge a Bird by its Feathers": Did Eliezer-Zusman Paint the Unterlimpurg Synagogue?
12:00-14:00 Session 5b (Bld. 905 room 61): Between Particular and Universal
Chair: Larry Silver
Aviv Livnat, Tel-Aviv University, Bezalel Academy, The Bereaved Space: Between Constructed and Deconstructed
Mirjam Rajner, Bar-Ilan University, The Non-Jewish Jewish Artist: Revisiting "Jewish Identity" in Modern Art
Małgorzata Stolarska-Fronia, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń, Poland, Jewish Expressionism: Between Discourses of Degeneration and Revival
Andrea von Hülsen-Esch, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, After 1918: Jankel Adler’s Struggle for Jewish Art in the Rhineland
15:30-17:30 Session 6 (Bld. 905 room 62): Deconstructing Jewish Space
Chair: Bracha Yaniv
Helena Lahoz Kopiske, Universität Zürich, El Tránsito Synagogue of Toledo and the Great Synagogue of Florence: Mudéjar and Neo-Moorish Architecture?
Vladimir Levin, Center for Jewish Art, The Hebrew University, Between History and Architecture: Eastern European Synagogues
Rudolf Klein, Szent Istvan University, Synagogues: Forefathers of the Architecture of Deconstruction?
David M. Cassuto, Ariel University, “It is not Incumbent upon You to Finish the Task”: Judaism and Material Creativity
Wednesday September 9
9:30-11:30 Session 7 (Bld. 905 room 62): The Challenges of Studying and Teaching
Chair: Shalom Sabar
Elisheva Revel-Neher, The Hebrew University, Decrypting a Jewish Medieval Image: Bezalel Narkiss and the Seal of Solomon
Annette Weber, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg, The Impact of History and Politics on the Study of Jewish Art in Germany
Shulamit Laderman, Bar-Ilan University, What I Learned from Teaching Jewish Art to Chinese Educators
Ilia Rodov, Bar-Ilan University, Reframing Traditional Jewish Art
11:30-12:00 Coffee Break
12:00-13:30 Session 8 (Bld. 905 room 62): The Challenges of Teaching and Exhibiting
Chair: Steven Fine
Katrin Kogman-Appel, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Ronit Steinberg, Bezalel Academy, The Visual Arts in Jewish Societies
Andreina Contessa, U. Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art, The Jewish Museum: New Questions on an Old Idea
Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Independent Curator, Austria, Challenging Judaica Objects in the Exhibition: “A Time for Everything - Rituals Against Forgetting”
15:00-17:00 Session 9 (Bld. 905 room 62): Migrating Motifs, Myths and Allegories
Chair: Andrea von Hülsen-Esch
Steven Fine, Yeshiva University, Basic Instincts: Jewish and Christian Reflections on the Arch of Titus Menorah Base
Eyal Baruch, Bar-Ilan University, Decorations in the Palatial Mansion of Jerusalem: Wealth and Ideology
Susan Nashman Fraiman, The Hebrew University, The Myth of The “Judenstern”: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Jewish Art and Artefact
Monika Czekanowska-Gutman, Warsaw University, What is Jewish about Pietà?
17:00-17:10 Closing Remarks
17:30 Visit to The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center (83 Ben-Porat Road, Or-Yehuda) and a festive dinner (closed event)
Thursday September 10
9:30-11:30 Round Table Discussion (closed event)
12.00-14.00 International Workshop Meeting (closed event)
14:30-15:30 Ars Judaica and Images Joint Meeting (closed event)
The Workshop will focus on two interrelated categories:
- the research strategies applied to both visual arts in Jewish societies and Jewish dimensions in modern and postmodern world art;
- the conception and practice of academic teaching in these fields.
With fundamental shifts in culture, art history, and Jewish studies during the recent decades, it has become increasingly crucial for the custodians of higher education to carefully re-examine their approach to the history and interpretation of what is referred to as ‘Jewish’ art in both traditionalist scholarship and in the practice of art making, curatorship, and connoisseurship. Responding to developments in the humanities, communication studies, social studies and psychology, contemporary art history commonly embraces investigations of any image or object created for the sake of communicating meanings or emotions, and thus often replaces the term ‘art’ with a semantically broader term ‘visual culture.’ Contemporary scholarly research and the academic teaching of ‘Jewish’ art—like postmodern Jewish history and historiography —are increasingly distancing themselves from the search for any single exhaustive definition of the adjective ‘Jewish’ as applied to art, culture, and history. Instead, they tend to focus upon the variety and flexibility of both individual and collective Jewish self-identification throughout the ages. Scholarly discourse steadily moves away from the oft-repeated questions “Does Jewish art exist?” and “What is Jewish art?” to the inquiry “What is Jewish in ‘Jewish’ art?”—attempting to investigate Jewish visual cultures and their messages in their multiple contexts and interactions with the surroundings. This notwithstanding, even though the signifier ‘Jewish’ in the phrase ‘Jewish art’ is conventional and only loosely describes its object, it still relates to its signified in a fashion no less significant than the strict meaning of ‘middle’ does to ‘ages’ in the historical sciences, or the definition ‘charm’ does to quarks in particle physics. Thus the term ‘Jewish art’ can be instrumental in our discussion of visual culture, artistic expression, and appreciation of the plastic arts.
The Conference seeks to explore and expand our knowledge of the field of ‘Jewish art’ under the following rubric:
1. The History of ‘Jewish Art’ as Art History
- Futile obsolescence or a promising innovation?
Are ‘Jewish art’ studies shifting from the ‘nationalist’ or ‘regional’ approach to art (exemplified by ‘French’ or ‘African’ art) to postmodern ‘sectorial’ studies (such as minority/majority, gender, social, and other postmodern approaches to art history)? Do and, if so, how do the contemporary studies of ‘Jewish’ visual culture deal with the concepts of human geography (place, space, wanderings, utopias, heterotopias, and more); body studies; trauma and post-trauma; the acceptance of art making as a meditative praxis, esoteric revelation, or mental health therapy?
- Local studies or universal art history?
Does the focus on a marginal group’s art enrich or hamper the scholar’s comprehension of general developments in visual arts? Is the search for ‘Jewish dimensions’ or the ‘Jewish contribution’ to world art productive or tendentious? Should similar or different research strategies be applied to the study of visual culture in Jewish Diaspora and Israeli visual culture? Are there distinct ‘schools’ in ‘Jewish art’ history? If there are, are they institutional, local, or do they cross international borders?
2. The History of ‘Jewish Art’ as a Judaic Studies Field
- How interdisciplinary are ‘Jewish art’ studies?
To what extent should researchers of ‘Jewish’ visual culture and plastic arts be experts in the Bible; Jewish thought, literature, and folklore; Jewish law and history; archaeology, and the like? What is the proper balance between the study of the history and analysis of art and the study of Jewish texts, history, and anthropology? Should the study of ‘Jewish art’ be an integral part of the study of Jewish history, literature, sociology, and religion?
How does the history of ‘Jewish art’ relate to Jewish history and historiography?
What does 'Jewish art' history have to contribute to our understanding of general history, and vice-versa? What metahistories do historians of ‘Jewish art’ propose? How do these theories correspond to the metahistories in Jewish historiography?
3. The History of ‘Jewish Art’ as an Academic Discipline
- How should the discipline be taught?
What fields of world art history must we teach the students of ‘Jewish art’ history (in addition to a core program in the theory and methodology of art history)? What is the proper balance between teaching the students about artefacts and their history and training them in analytic approaches to visual expressions? In the post-Guttenberg age of information exchange, should ‘Jewish art’ historians discard the diachronic principle (the divisions into ancient and medieval art, for example) and the concept of media (the division into painting, architecture, and applied arts, and so forth)? What are the advantages or disadvantages of a program based on critical theory and postmodern concepts?
- Indices or insights – A contradiction in terms?
To what extent should contemporary art historians and academic institutions invest their efforts in what was often a priority in ‘Jewish art’ studies during the last century: taking pictures of artefacts and collecting them; cataloguing, indexing, and creating databases of images? What, in your opinion, is the optimal balance between focusing on empirical research and case studies and focusing on conceptual generalization?
- What place should the discipline of ‘Jewish art’ history play in contemporary society?
Why do both the popular and scholarly strata continue to believe in the strictly iconophobic character of Jewish culture? How does or will the field of ‘Jewish art’ history—which may be characterized as a humanist ‘niche field’—survive the decline of the humanities, contemporary technocratic priorities in university management, and pragmatist critics of art history higher education?