Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Contemporary Jewish Museum on Christmas Day

Ben Shahn, Menorah, National Gallery of Art
This is the time of the year that everybody comes out with their 10 best. I will have to look back on my notes to see what strikes me as worth remembering - it's not been a very good year. But right now, the Contemporary Jewish Musum has another one of their knock out shows. Forget the oversized geometric pieces of Stella at the de Young and go over the the CJM where the show, "Inherited Memory" looks at memories imprinted in our DNA . The diverse works by the show's 24 artists don't reflect their own memories, but haunting evocations of the past, often tragic events.

Alien Souvenir Stand British artist Ellen Harvey
The Contemporary Jewish Museum is the only Bay Area museum open on Christmas Day with a full day's worth of programs and workships for families. Admission is free on Christmas Day

The Contemporary Jewish Museum's Community Day is an admission-free, fun-for-all extravaganza that has become an annual tradition for Bay Area families. Explore the galleries, create art, and move and groove to live music! Bring your family and friends and enjoy an exciting day at The Museum.

ADMISSION: Free Museum admission all day

The current show, “From Generation to Generation: Inherited Memory and Contemporary Art” looks at the memories of 24 artists working via the imagination, collective DNA, knowledge - whether of family or history - of the Holocaust, struggles for social justice in the past.

Neo Bustamente, Kevlar
Such a broad topic could have made for a very uneven show but the painfulness of the memories and the present reality of war and bigotry and violence give the works an extra sharp edge and poignancy. Director Lori Star speaks of rememberance and transformation, more important now than ever, as fake hate and racist news and violent bigotry are breaking through the thin crust of civilization.

This exhibition expands on the groundbreaking work by Dr. Marianne Hirsch on postmemory, defined as “the relationship that the ‘generation after’ bears to the personal, collective, and cultural trauma of those who came before—to experiences they ‘remember’ only by means of the stories, images and behaviors among which they grew up.   

Bernice Einstein, Genizot
One of the most powerful testimonies to the horror of the past is Lisa Kokin’s “Inventory” (1997), a history of ordinary people told through the ordinary objects they would have left behind. Simple things such as buttons, keys, broken glasses, found in thrift shops and flea markets, are encased in hog gut squares, a golden organic repository, lined up along one whole wall - a memorial to honor their stolen lives.

In whimisical Alien Souvenir Stand British artist Ellen Harvey imagines an Earth no longer occupied by humans but used as a tourist destination for extraterrestrials. Repurposing a hot dog stand as a postcard souvenir stand for the aliens, the artist articulates a complicated system of pillars, or columns, favored by the humans that no longer exist. Harvey decided to focus on the pillar as subject when visiting Washington DC from New York and recognizing that pillars and neo-classical architecture in general have been loved and used by people throughout history with various meanings. The aliens have been left to interpret this strange architecture for themselves.

David "Chim” Seymour has written a line from John Updike: "What is the past, after all," he laments, "but a vast sheet of darkness, in which a few moments, picked apparently at random, shine?"

The artists include Christian Boltanski, Nao Bustamante, Binh Danh, Silvina Der-Meguerditchian, Bernice Eisenstein, Eric Finzi, Nicholas Galanin, Guy Goldstein, Fotini Gouseti, Ellen Harvey, Aram Jibilian, Loli Kantor, Mike Kelley, Lisa Kokin, Ralph Lemon, Rä di Martino, Yong Soon Min, Fabio Morais, Elizabeth Moran, Vandy Rattana, Anri Sala, Wael Shawky, Hank Willis Thomas, and Chikako Yamashiro. 

Japan).all images courtesty of the CJM. 

No comments: