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January 13, 2010 - by NYC News Desk

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Rite Now: Sacred and Secular in Video will be on view from September 13, 2009 through February 7, 2010 in The Jewish Museum's Barbara and E. Robert Goodkind Media Center. In the past decade, contemporary artists have taken video in new directions. During its birth as an artistic medium in the late 1960s and early 1970s, most experiments focused on formal aspects of the medium. Today, artists are exploring a wider spectrum of cultural issues and incorporating genres such as documentary, narrative, and autobiography. Rite Now presents videos produced between 2001 and 2009 that explore secular and sacred rituals in a new framework, documenting inventive spiritual practices, reimagining old stories, and proposing new rituals. Artists represented include Lior Bar, Tamar Ettun, Neil Goldberg, Barbara Rose Haum, Sarah Jane Lapp, Hila Lulu Lin and Dafna Shalom. Rite Now is presented in conjunction with the exhibition, Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life, and is open on Fridays through Mondays.

Rite Now consists of three video programs. The first examines how three Israeli artists blur the lines between secular and religious ceremonies. In Gestures for a Metal Detector (2008, digital video, 6 min., 8 sec.), Lior Bar stages a security check in front of public buildings in downtown San Francisco, repeating an Israeli secular ritual in a society with a different set of safety protocols and expectations. In Tamar Ettun's Standing Prayer (2008, digital video, 5 min., 59 sec.), the artist performs her version of a prayer on the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Attempting to communicate more directly with God, she rigs herself up on ropes from structures such as a tower, bridge, tunnel and olive tree. Dafna

Shalom's Yamim Noraim (Fearful Days) #2 (2007, digital video, 5 min., 23 sec.) posits ritual as a source of spiritual expression and social and environmental concerns. As an Israeli of Yemenite and Moroccan descent, Shalom uses ancestral musical motifs to break down dichotomies between Jew and Arab, East and West, male and female, religious and secular, sound and silence. Chanting in Hebrew, using a Moroccan call-and-response pattern, a lone female voice in dialogue with a male chorus describes the need for sanctity in the midst of chaos.

The second program focuses on the videos of Barbara Rose Haum (1962-2008), who dedicated her career to examining how the repetition of text and image shapes religious, gender, and Jewish identities. This selection of videos was part of Haum's final, unfinished multimedia project, Book Unbound: Text in Time (2007-8, digital video, 13 min.), which advocates the reinvention of the annual reading cycle of the Torah using Biblical texts, interpretations by multiple artists, and twentieth-century events in Jewish history. Using stories from the Book of Genesis, Haum revises ancient narratives with striking imagery such as a woman consuming the alphabet, hands crushing a pomegranate, and books being buried under dirt.

The third program explores new approaches to mourning customs and rites. Understood (2002, digital video, 19 min.) is Hila Lulu Lin's attempt to cope with the burdens of personal and national history and to affirm her own identity. Lin returns to her kibbutz, a place she associates with feelings of betrayal and repression. She invites her extended family and community members to a ritual that memorializes the passing of her father and grandparents, and heals painful memories. In A System for Writing Thank You Notes (2001, digital video, 8 min., 30 sec.), Neil Goldberg's widowed father explains a practical, efficient method for acknowledging condolence cards and other expressions of sympathy, showing how order and dispassion are necessary tools in the grieving process. Chronicles of a Professional Eulogist (2009, digital video, 25 min.), a hand-drawn animated film by Sarah Jane Lapp, based on interviews with various clergy members, stars an irascible rabbi - who prefers to think of himself as a "grief facilitator" - disclosing his trade secrets to an acolyte. Lapp's film explores the challenging role of those who create authentic portrayals of the deceased and use the written word to minister to mourners. 

Screening Schedule

Program A - Lior Bar, Tamar Ettun, Dafna Shalom

11:30 am, 12:40 pm, 1:50 pm, 3:00 pm, 4:10 pm

Program B - Barbara Rose Haum

11:50 am, 1:00 pm, 2:10 pm, 3:20 pm, 4:30 pm

Program C - Hila Lulu Lin, Neil Goldberg, Sarah Jane Lapp

12:05 pm, 1:15 pm, 2:25 pm, 3:35 pm, 4:45 pm

Artist Biographies

Lior Bar (Israeli, b. 1971) has previously exhibited in San Francisco at the Art Institute, Artists' Television Access, and Patricia Sweetow Gallery.

Tamar Ettun (Israeli, b. 1982) exhibited her work at The Center for Contemporary Art (Tel Aviv), Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, The Israel Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery.

Neil Goldberg (American, b. 1963) has previously exhibited at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive, The Hammer Museum, The Jewish Museum (Love and Loss: A Video Trilogy by Neil Goldberg, 2007; Too Jewish?: Challenging Traditional Identities, 1996), The Kitchen, New Museum, and The Wexner Center for the Arts. His videos have been screened at the British Film Institute, New York Jewish Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, and Thirteen/WNET's Reel New York. His work is in the Permanent Collections of The Jewish Museum and The Museum of Modern Art.

Barbara Rose Haum (German-American, 1962-2008) exhibited her work at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Center for Book Arts, the Jewish Museum (Frankfurt), and New York University, where she served as Assistant Professor of Culture and Communication and pioneered the use of Internet2 as an artistic medium. Her work is in the Permanent Collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC/VAL, Paris), and Fotographie Forum Frankfurt.

Sarah Jane Lapp (American, b. 1972) has previously exhibited at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art; British Film Institute; New York Jewish Film Festival; Pacific Film Archive; Tacoma Art Museum; Smithsonian Institution; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Walker Art Center.

Hila Lulu Lin (Israeli, b. 1964) exhibited her work at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, The Israel Museum, The Jewish Museum, Museo d'arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Bolzano), Tel Aviv

Museum of Art, and Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (Karlsruhe). Her work is in the Permanent Collections of The Haifa Museum of Art, The Israel Museum, The Jewish Museum, The Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and Bass Museum of Art.

Dafna Shalom (Israeli, b. 1966) has previously exhibited at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, The Minnesota Center for Photography, The Museum of Art Ein Harod, The Museum of Contemporary Art (Zagreb), and The Petach Tikva Museum of Art.

General Information (NOTE: NEW MUSEUM HOURS as of July 1, 2009)

Museum hours are Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 11am to 5:45pm; and Friday, 11am to 4pm. Museum admission is $12.00 for adults, $10.00 for senior citizens, $7.50 for students, free for children under 12 and Jewish Museum members. Admission is free on Saturdays. For general information on The Jewish Museum, the public may visit the Museum's Web site at or call 212.423.3200. The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, Manhattan.
About the Goodkind Media Center

Located on the third floor of The Jewish Museum, the Goodkind Media Center houses a digital library of radio and television programs from the Museum's National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting (NJAB). It also features a changing exhibition space dedicated to video and new media. Using computer workstations, visitors are able to search material by keyword and by categories such as art, comedy, drama, news, music, kids, Israel, and the Holocaust.

About the National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting

The National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting, founded in 1981 in association with the Charles H. Revson Foundation, is the largest and most comprehensive body of broadcast materials on 20th century Jewish culture in the United States. With a mission to collect, preserve and exhibit television and radio programs related to the Jewish experience, the NJAB is an important educational resource for critical examination of how Jews have been portrayed and portray themselves, and how the mass media has addressed issues of ethnicity and diversity. Its collection is comprised of 4,300 broadcast and cable television and radio programs.
About The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum was established on January 20, 1904 when Judge Mayer Sulzberger donated 26 ceremonial art objects to The Jewish Theological Seminary of America as the core of a museum collection. Today, The Jewish Museum maintains an important collection of 26,000 objects - paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photographs, archaeological artifacts, ceremonial objects, and broadcast media. Widely admired for its exhibitions and educational programs that inspire people of all backgrounds, The Jewish Museum is the preeminent United States institution exploring the intersection of 4,000 years of art and Jewish culture.


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