Artists on Artists: Danielle Durchslag


The CANVAS Compendium: Dispatches from the New Jewish Renaissance

Once again, we’re delighted to bring CANVAS Compendium readers Artists on Artists, when a Jewish artist whose work we admire shares the artists whose work they admire. Now it’s Danielle Durchslag’s turn.

Danielle Durchslag is a visual artist and filmmaker making art about some of the most important and fraught aspects of contemporary Jewish life. Whether exploring the complexities of American Jewish wealth—the experience she comes from—or critiquing the general Ashkenazi focus on scarcity over abundance, her work challenges traditional communal notions of Jewish allegiance. 

Danielle has exhibited around the world, including solo exhibitions at Denny Gallery, Yale University, and London’s Four Corners Gallery. Her work has shown at institutions like the Jewish Museum, the Queens Museum, the Jewish Museum of Maryland, and the Ackland Art Museum, and at festivals such as the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival, the UK Jewish Film Festival, the Moscow Jewish Film Festival, the New York Jewish Film Festival at Lincoln Center, and the Cannes Short Film Festival. 

Durchslag’s work has been featured in Artforum, the New York Times, the Forward (a CANVAS media grantee), Hyperallergic (also a CANVAS media grantee), the New York Daily News, the Independent, and on NPR radio. She is a selected fellow of the New Jewish Culture Fellowship (a CANVAS grantee network) and a grant recipient of the NYFA Made In NY Women’s Film, TV, and Theatre Fund. 

To learn more about Durchslag, visit her website or Instagram account. But first, learn about the artists she chose to highlight for Compendium readers: “These are the artists I return to again and again to inspire my own practice.”

Featured image: Danielle Durchslag models her work, Taylor Bonnet, mixed media, 2023. The artist crafts Passover-themed bonnets to wear to the New York City Easter Parade. Photos: Emily Teague.

Pawel Pawlikowski

Promotional image from Pawlikowski’s Ida.

Pawel Pawlikowski is, for me, one of the most important and brilliant filmmakers directing today, and a huge influence on my work. His haunting, visually gorgeous black and white feature films about post-World War II Poland, Ida and Cold War, are visual masterpieces. 

Raised Catholic, Pawlikowski learned as a teenager that his grandmother was Jewish and murdered at Auschwitz. That history likely inspired Ida, his tale of a young, orphaned nun in the 1960’s who learns of her own hidden, traumatic past when she discovers her only living relative, a Jewish former prosecutor for the Communist state.

Ida portrays Jewish absence and the ways that absence haunts Polish life in a way I’ve never seen anywhere else. Watch it for the brilliant storytelling and fascinating characters, but also for Pawlikowski’s innovative, unrelenting shot compositions. For almost the entirety of the film, he crams his figures into the lower half of the frame, creating a sense of pressure, confinement, and vulnerability that permeates every scene.

Joey Soloway

The Pfeffermans of Joey Soloway’s Transparent.

So much of Jewish cultural production focuses exclusively on our victimhood or our triumphs, ignoring all the complex, messy, and fascinating stuff in between—the stuff I knew years ago I wanted to explore in my work. But before seeing Joey Soloway’s Transparent, I’d convinced myself that stories about the problems and confusions of privileged, white, urban, Ashkenazi Jews probably would not find an audience. 

The second season of Soloway’s series, which toggles back and forth between present-day Los Angeles and Weimar-era Berlin to investigate Jewish loss, sexuality, and transness, really changed that for me. Watching a show this convincingly and honestly Jewish—including both critical and loving content—become part of the broader cultural conversation made a huge impact on my work.

Soloway is one of very few non-male filmic storytellers with that level of power in the industry, and their work proves that space exists for Jewish stories as complex, imperfect, beautiful, awful, human, and layered as Jews themselves. 

Shterna Goldbloom 

From Shterna Goldbloom’s Shabbos series (detail). Image courtesy of the artist.

I grew up in Chicago, a city I love, but not one historically associated with avant-garde Jewish artmaking, to put it mildly. When I first read about the work of Shterna Goldbloom, a wonderful photographer and sculptor visually exploring Jewishness and queerness, I felt thrilled to discover they live and work in my hometown. Through their personal output and their local curating, Goldbloom is crafting new and dynamic midwestern space for first-rate contemporary Jewish makers.

Raised in the Hasidic community, Goldbloom left that world as a teenager, though many of their family members remain adherents. In a really singular, beautiful way, Goldbloom’s work wrestles with community, meaning, and connection across ultra-Orthodox and queer identity. I’ve just never seen art from a former ultra-Orthodox person capable of holding so much tenderness and critique with equal ease, and seeing their stuff always knocks my socks off. 

[Goldbloom’s work also inspired curators Yevgeniy Fiks and Maria Veits—ed.]

Dan Fishback

Photo: Sammy Tunis.

I first met Dan Fishback and his work through the New Jewish Culture Fellowship, where we got assigned to one another as chevrutas, or study buddies, back in 2019. Though our cohort officially ended in 2020, our group has continued to regularly meet in the years since, and in that time my work has benefited enormously from knowing Dan and his practice. 

The only truly appropriate word to apply to all of Dan’s output, whether it be his brilliant songwriting, playwriting, and screenwriting, his creation of the lauded La Mama’s Squirts performance series, or his beautiful animated videos, is fearless. Despite enormous Jewish communal pushback, Dan has been unapologetically crafting fabulous anti-Zionist, queer, and gloriously lefty art, across mediums, for years. The redlines in Jewish life can feel very real and scary for contemporary artists, but Dan dances through them with humor and oodles of gorgeous permission. I love his talent, of course, but I also greatly admire his bravery.

Mika Rottenberg

From Mika Rottenberg’s video Cheese (2007).

Argentinian/Israeli artist Mika Rottenberg makes playful, colorful, visually crowded, crazy smart video pieces that straddle the line between narrative and experimental filmmaking. She uses sight gags, repetition, and surreal imagery to investigate female labor and production in late-stage capitalism, to great effect. In her video Cheese, for example, a group of sisters make cheese, and milk cows, using a machine of Rottenberg’s invention, powered exclusively by their absurdly long, luxurious tresses. 

Dark humor is a big part of my work, and one of the ways I honor Jewish culture in my art. I experience the same thing in Rottenberg’s film and sculptural pieces, even though she does not usually directly engage with Jewish themes. She proves the rare artist whose politically savvy work produces audible laughter in the usually hushed rooms of museums and galleries, something I absolutely love.

See previous Artists on Artists curated by writer Jeremy Dauber and visual artist Tiffany Shlain.

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