This week we’re delighted to bring another installment of Artists on Artists, when we turn over the keys to Jewish artists we admire so they can share the work of artists they admire. This time it’s Tom Haviv and Eden Pearlstein, multidisciplinary writers and artists who also co-founded Ayin Press, publisher of graphically and thematically daring Jewish books.
Tom Haviv is the author of a poetry collection, Flag of No Nation and a children’s book, Woven. He is the co-founder and creative director of Ayin Press as well as the founder of the Hamsa Flag Project, the creation of a flag for envisioning the future of Israel/Palestine.
Eden Pearlstein is a poet, performer, publisher, editor, and educator. He produces and performs original music and has collaborated on upwards of 40 books on contemporary Jewish spirituality. He is also the co-founder and editor of Ayin Press, and his debut book of poetry, Nothing is For Everyone, will to be published in Winter 2023.
Ayin Press is an artist-run publishing platform and production studio rooted in Jewish culture and emanating outward. Both online and in print, Ayin cultivates spaces where artists, scholars, thinkers, and practitioners can share a diverse, interdisciplinary, and innovative range of projects, such as poetry, essays, fiction, theory, art books, anthologies, interviews, translations, conceptual projects, digital works, immersive events, and online programming.
For the CANVAS Compendium, Haviv and Pearlstein share below “a selection of interdisciplinary, multimedia artists working within a broadly defined field of language and text-based practices and research-based creative processes, where the ground of history meets the horizon of imagination.”
Victoria Hanna is a multimedia artist and musician whose work weaves together ancient mystical texts, experimental vocal techniques, contemporary music production, video, and immersive installation. From the stage to the screen to the museum to other site-specific works, Hanna’s creative practice is predicated on language and Jewish tradition—amulets, alphabets, poetry, and prayer.
LightDarkness, based on a cryptic, Kabbalistic poem written by Abraham Abulafia in the 13th century, is a perfect example of the ways in which Hanna explores the creative potentials that exist between text, voice, sound, and image. See also the trippy animated video for (Torah) Orayta.
Adi Liraz is an interdisciplinary artist working between Berlin, Germany, and Ioannina, Greece. With text, textile, installation, video, and performance, Liraz’s work deconstructs and reclaims the contested sites of personal, family, and cultural memory. Focused on issues of gender, power, and marginality within the context of the Romaniote Jewish community of Greece, Liraz’s art is complex, craft-focused, research-based, and at times, creatively uncomfortable.
One such work is Textured (Hi)Stories: ReMembering, the result of spending two weeks in the “nearly abandoned” women’s gallery of a synagogue in Ioannina as well as interviews with women of Romaniote Jewish heritage. The installations consist of “history dresses,” sewing machines, and video, to both commemorate the 1944 deportation of the local Jewish community and celebrate the multiethnic influences on Ioannina’s culture.
Luisa Muhr is an interdisciplinary composer and artist who predominantly works with the voice and body. Her creations include improvised music and movement, graphic scores, video works, and opera. Muhr often works with fellow musicians to explore the relationship between sonic and physical movement (what she refers to as “field work”).
Reflecting her multi-lingual upbringing, Muhr is particularly interested in the communicative potentials and limitations of language. Tongues: a Grapho-Linguistic Score and Performance, engages the story of the Tower of Babel as a jumping-off point for group improvisation—transforming an ancient text into a multimedia methodology for exploring music and alternative modes of “speech” beyond words.
Slavs and Tatars
Slavs and Tatars is a collective of artist-scholars whose work focuses on “an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia.” The collective’s practice is based on three activities: exhibitions, books and lecture-performances. As a transnational group of researcher-practitioners, their works, at once serious and playful, are self-consciously syncretic and often subversive of essentialist identifications and exclusionary hierarchies.
Whether in museums, books, or performances, Slavs and Tatars creatively engage language as a primary medium for de- and re-constructing meaning, both personally and collectively. Through their signature approach of semiotic inversions and social interventions, they transform the book into a gallery, the lecture into a theater, and the exhibit into a three-dimensional text.
Triple Canopy is a dynamic, multi-platform project that pushes the boundaries of 21st-century publishing. Rooted in the production of an annual online journal, Triple Canopy also produces books, art objects, events, and classes. Its staff has consistently introduced novel interventions into how texts and media are presented online, such as their “horizontal scroll” function, their attempt to “slow down the internet.”
While not a specifically Jewish project, we wanted to include Triple Canopy because it approaches the publishing process as collaborative, investing maximal energy, imagination, and care into each publication. And each publication, exhibition, and event exemplifies a creative worldview in which art, technology, scholarship, and social critique intersect in surprising juxtapositions that are smart, fun, informative, and inspiring.
Read our previous Artists on Artists curated by Julia Vogl and Gabriella Willenz here.