Posted: Tuesday Oct 2, 2012
October 2, 2012
Ben Schachter, associate professor of fine arts at Saint Vincent College, is currently participating in two simultaneous international exhibitions.
The first exhibition, “This Token Partnership: The Materiality of a Jewish Spatial Practice,” is being shown at the Yale University Institute for Sacred Music from October 10 to December 14. The second, “It’s a Thin Line: The Eruv and the Jewish Community in New York and Beyond,” is at the Yeshiva University Museum. It opened on September 28 and will be shown through June 30. Both exhibits focus on historical and contemporary reflections on the eruv.
The Yale exhibit includes an international roster of artists including Shirin Nishat, Sophie Calle and Mel Alexenberg. A series of lectures is scheduled to accompany the show.
The Yeshiva exhibit brings together maps and memorabilia from their collection and contemporary art installations that reflect upon the subject including New York-based artist Yona Verwer. Mr. Schachter is displaying “The Residents of Chelm Visit the Yeshiva University Museum” which continues themes he began at the Mattress Factory several years ago.
Both exhibitions will also include Mr. Schachter’s paintings on paper. “Each is based on the map of an eruv and uses thread to emulate the wire that is often used to define the boundary,” he explained. “Some paintings depict well-established eruvs including Squirrel Hill and Boston, while others depict controversial ones such as the Westhampton Beach in which lawsuits have been brought regarding the separation of Church and State.”
“An eruv is a symbolic Jewish enclosure that delimits a communal boundary,” Mr. Schachter continued. “More than a physical limit, the eruv temporarily blends individual houses into one home on the Sabbath. Practically speaking, it allows persons to carry food and push strollers from one house to another on the Sabbath, activities ordinarily prohibited. While some see this as a loophole in religious doctrine, others favor the community the eruv engenders. “
Mr. Schachter’s research brings together Jewish Law and contemporary art. He finds many similarities between the way rules are applied in both realms. These overlooked correspondences inform both his artwork and writing. His work contributes to the growing field of contemporary Jewish Art as seen by the above exhibitions.
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