in a Time of Plagues
A Jewish creative response to real-world plagues of our time
(Click on image to display slideshow)
From Adam W. McKinney’s “Shelter in Place” (Courtesy Oregon Jewish Museum & Center for Holocaust Education)
Dwelling in a Time of Plagues is a Jewish creative response to real-world plagues of our time. Dwelling is a constellation of outdoor art installations at Jewish museum sites around the United States, displayed during Sukkot and Passover of 5781. Collectively, these commissions grapple with contemporary crises: the global pandemic, institutional racism and ageism, forced isolation, global warming, and the crisis for migrants and refugees.
The first works coincide with the holiday of Sukkot and delineate space for our intellectual wanderings. They reinterpret the form of the sukkah in response to our times and to our unique partner sites this October — the Holocaust Museum LA, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, and the Jewish History Museum in Tucson. Each piece responds to its host community specifically, and to our collective plight as Jews and as human beings.
We invite you to dwell with us in these physical and virtual sukkahs for our times.
CANVAS is a Jewish Funders Network-powered collaborative fund designed to encourage and support a 21st-century Jewish cultural renaissance. Grant recipients from CANVAS’ first cohort of awardees – including Reboot, Asylum Arts, LABA, and the Council of American Jewish Museums – are working with contemporary artists to explore new meanings of Sukkot and Passover. The works are designed to be viewed outdoors – responding to pandemic realities, the exciting potential for outdoor art, justice issues, and the nature of the Jewish holiday, itself.
Sukkot Works & Sites
Each artist was asked to develop an artwork that takes into account the themes of Sukkot, while considering safety realities per the pandemic, the outside spaces available, special opportunities at each museum, and themes of justice.
14TH STREET Y
HIGHLIGHTS FROM WORKS IN LOS ANGELES, PORTLAND AND TUCSON
The Dwelling Team
Tiffany Woolf is a filmmaker with 25 years of experience in visual arts, film and entertainment. Her work is centered around moving images as a catalyst for remembrance and legacy. Since 2017, Tiffany’s major artistic focus has been her project Silver Screen Studios, a series of documentary shorts and digital platform to celebrate the wit, wisdom and candor of seniors, both in and out of the public eye. She has traveled the country to capture the stories of older role models along with the legends we love and launched three series: “The Last Act,” “Coming of Age” and “Dispatches from Quarantine.”
Mirta Kupferminc is a multidisciplinary Argentine artist, curator, lecturer, mentor, and teacher of other artists who lives and works in Buenos Aires.
Exhibiting since 1977, she has had more than 100 solo and group shows in Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Uruguay, China Switzerland, Spain, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong , Germany, Israel, Poland, France, Hungary, England, United States. Her works can be found in international collections and museums. She has received local and international printmaking awards, including: Great Honor Prize (2012) in Argentina, First Prize Sivori Museum, Argentina (2018), Silver Medal Taiwan Biennale (2006), Honor Mention Taipei Biennale (1999), Third Prize at 7th Koichi Biennale (2008). She was curator of the Argentinean presentation at the Contemporary Jewish Art Jerusalem Biennale 2019.
Adam W. McKinney
Adam W. McKinney is a Gay, Black, Native, Jewish artist whose work investigates the impact of history as the persistent pursuit of social justice activism. A former member of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet Company, he was named one of the most influential African-Americans in Milwaukee, WI by St. Vincent DePaul. More at www.dnaworks.org.
In 2013 she was the first international fellow at LABA House of Study: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture at the 14th St Y in New York City. She is the founding and current LABA-BA director in Buenos Aires and is director of Grafica Insurgente Association in Argentina.
Her work is engraved in a very precise contemporary production line, and she is interested in the ability of art to plunge into universal narratives. She is drawn to certain recurrent topics, such as memory, identity, migrations, and human rights. She created the memorial at Plaza Lavalle, in Buenos Aires commemorating the victims of the 1994 AMIA terrorist bombing.
The Usphizin of the Silver Screen: Honoring the Visions & Voices of the Past
Holocaust Museum LA
This year, we are all living apart…forced to quarantine…many alone, sheltering in place, often with no outlet for deep connection and community. For our elders, there is a loss of voice and in these times, a disappearance. This outdoor installation focuses on the Sukkot tradition of the ushpizin: symbolic guests invited into the sukkah…ancestors…friends. The tradition manifests by calling them into the temporary space of the sukkah to honor stories of the past. Traditionally, the ushpizin are called in through photos and drawings displayed in the sukkah—remembered together by its nightly visitors.
In keeping with Los Angeles culture, this sukkah will be designed as an old-time Hollywood movie house, with the voices and stories of the ushpizin to be watched and heard from the outside. While the sukkah will remain Covid-empty, it will be filled by the once voiceless, with their diverse and cherished Jewish stories and remembrances of the past.
14th Street Y
See highlights from the national project "Dwelling in a Time of Plagues" through the windows of the 14th Street Y lobby gallery in NYC. From October 9 through late November, the Y is displaying "Clamor in the City," an adaptation of Mirta Kupferminc's "Clamor in the Desert." In the coming months, it will be displaying adapted versions of "Shelter in Place" and "Ushpizin of the Silver Screen."
Adam W. McKinney
Shelter in place
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education
A Black Jewish response to histories of oppression, "Shelter in Place" is an inquiry into social isolation and the physical and emotional effects of anti-Black racial violence across time and space. "Shelter in Place" is made up of several elements, including: contemporary tintypes of McKinney dressed as 1921 Fort Worth, Texas, lynching victim Mr. Fred Rouse at sites associated with the lynching; a mélange of hanging tree branches to reference the deconstruction of a sukkah; and two projected dance films–one of McKinney performing the story of Mr. Rouse in sites of trauma, and the other a hologram about the intersections of racism and antisemitism in the time of Covid-19.
Clamor in the Desert/Kol Kore Bamidbar
Jewish History Museum (Tucson)
View virtual tour here.
As the artist for this piece, Mirta Kupferminc, writes, the movement of people around the
world does not stop stirring. Whether emigrants, exiles, expatriates, immigrants, or refugees – all are displaced from their homes and are referenced in this sukkah. The sukkah is an unstable and temporary construction, representing the fragility of human life and at the same time a shelter for anyone who feels forlorn.
Kol Kore Bamidbar, are the Hebrew words to say, "That voice that cries out for protection." The work transforms fence materials into a shelter that welcomes everyone. The same material that is used to build limitation and separation are used in this habitable installation to build a celebration, a shelter that receives humanity as a whole. Humanity is represented on the walls of the sukkah, as they are filled with printed images of eyes through participatory collective action. Visitors will be invited to hang prints on the installation. Mirrors hanging from the structure will reflect the eyes of visitors, as witnesses.
In the time of our current plague, although our mouths are covered with protective masks; our voices in our eyes continue to claim justice together.
CLAMOR EN EL DESIERTO/Kol Kore Bamidbar
La suka es una construccion inestable y provisoria, que representa la fragilidad de la vida humana. Pero es tambien el refugio para todo aquel que se siente desprotegido. Kol Kore Bamidbar, son las palabras hebreas para decir “esa voz que pide proteccion.”
Toda suka tiene sus paredes abiertas invitando a todo individuo que desee entrar, y ese es el motivo para celebrar. Es por eso, que en la tradicion judia es obligacion dejar afuera de la suka toda afliccion.
Los colores utilizados en esta obra representan los coleres de los atributos de sukkot, sumado el color del desierto de Arizona. El mismo material que sirve para construir cercos que limitan y separan, fueron utilizados en esta obra para construir un refugio de celebracion que albergue a la humanidad.
En epocas de Covid19, y aunque nuestras bocas esten cubiertas con las mascaras protectoras; nuestras voces en nuestras miradas siguen clamando por justicia para la humanidad toda.