American Jewish Historical Society Announces Opening Of “Holy Trash: My Genizah,” By Fine Arts And Performance Artist Rachel Libeskind
New One-of-a-Kind Interactive Exhibit Opening Sept. 22 Presents a Contemporary Interpretation of the Traditional Genizah
Libeskind to Perform Her Own Original Piece on Opening Night
New York, NY, September 13, 2016 – The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) today announced the opening of Holy Trash: My Genizah, a groundbreaking, new interactive exhibit by fine arts and performance artist Rachel Libeskind created especially for AJHS and crafted with texts and objects belonging to the AJHS collections. The exhibition at AJHS (15 West 16th Street), which explores a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Genizah – a storage area for worn-out Hebrew language holy books and papers – will open September 22 and run through December 2016.
Holy Trash: My Genizah features a collection of concrete casts, molded from books and objects found in the AJHS archives that will be displayed in a full-scale replica of Solomon Schechter’s Cambridge University office where the scholar studied the treasure trove of Hebrew manuscripts, papers and fragments he famously unearthed from the Cairo Genizah – considered one of the greatest architectural finds of the modern era.
Schechter defined a traditional Genizah as “the storeroom or depository in a synagogue; a cemetery in which worn-out and heretical or disgraced Hebrew books or papers are placed. In medieval times…their sanctity and consequent claim to preservation were held to depend on their containing the “names” of God.”
The exhibit, located in the AJHS exhibition space in the Steinberg Great Hall of the Center for Jewish History, presents a hard-edged personal commentary on the making of the Jewish archive from the documents of the Genizah, and on today’s archival procedures of sorting, cataloguing, and organizing history.
“It has been an honor to work with this kind of source material, and to develop a project that is both born and thrives within a living archive,” said Rachel Libeskind. “It has been an enriching experience working on a project which has pushed my own process into a sculptural and conceptual direction. The final installation is truly site specific, and will exist in contrast and relief to the archive at the Center.”
“An artist like Rachel Libeskind pushes the envelope,” said Rachel Lithgow, executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society. “When we at AJHS decided to commission a second artistic work (the first was the artist, dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer in 2014) she was our first and only choice. It is incredible to be a part of the creation of new art from a living archive.”
Libeskind will perform her own original piece on opening night during which she will put the finishing touches on the installation, in the form of printed gauze pieces of actual fragments from the legendary Cairo Genizah.
Ticket prices for the Sept. 22 exhibit opening and artist performance event are: $10 general, $7 students/seniors/AJHS members.
For more information about the exhibit, visit www.ajhs.org/programs.
About the American Jewish Historical Society
The American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) is the oldest ethnic, cultural archive in the United States. AJHS provides access to more than 25 million documents and 50,000 books, photographs, art and artifacts that reflect the history of the Jewish presence in the United States from 1654 to the present. At our home on West 16thStreet in downtown Manhattan, as well as in our Boston branch on Newbury Street, AJHS illuminates American Jewish history through our many archival treasures, scholarship, exhibitions, and public programs. Among the treasures of this heritage are the handwritten original of Emma Lazarus’ The New Colossus, which graces the Statue of Liberty; records of the nation’s leading Jewish communal organizations, and important collections in the field of education, philanthropy, science, sports, business, and the arts. For more information, please visit www.ajhs.org
About Rachel Libeskind
Rachel Libeskind is a New York-based artist, born in Milan and raised in Berlin. She holds a B.A. with honors from Harvard University, has shown her work in exhibition in Paris, London, Milan, Rome, Warsaw, Vilnius, Miami and New York among other cities internationally. She is a multi-disciplinary artist, often merging her installation and performance with her studio practice. Libeskind’s work is characterized by a unique combination of historicist appropriation and improvisational arranging. Her work deals with issues of identity, the transmutation of past histories and the collection and curation of images and objects.