As it were ... So to speak
A Museum Collection in Dialogue with Barbara Bloom
March 15 - August 4, 2013
Artist Barbara Bloom has devoted her career to questioning the ways we perceive and value objects. With a light touch and subtle wit, she divines the meanings encoded in the things with which we surround ourselves. The Jewish Museum invited Bloom to create an installation drawn from its more than 26,000 works of ceremonial, decorative, and fine art. Her presentation sets a selection of over 270 pieces in unconventional contexts, and offers visitors new ways to view the Museum and its holdings. The exhibition she is creating materializes the idea of people in dialogue across time and space, inspired in part by Bloom's reflections on Talmudic discourse, which takes place over centuries. Integrating the former Warburg mansion's historic rooms into her concept, the artist envisions the space as both museum and home filled with imagined historical guests - Nefertiti, Émile Zola, George Gershwin and others - from diverse times engaged in discourse and argument. The subjects are wide-ranging and reflect ideas that have long interested the artist: inferring a whole from surviving remnants, navigating the intricacies of bestowing gifts, representing the unspeakable. Furniture-shaped display cases contain collection objects that the artist finds intriguing or appealing. For example, Torah pointers with their delicate hands and extended forefingers stand in for strings inside a piano; a cigar box owned by Sigmund Freud is displayed in a psychoanalyst's consultation space; and a Dreyfus Affair game board sits on a table with ancient Roman dice. Each tableau is accompanied by written passages suggesting conversations between people. These evocative juxtapositions of found texts, Bloom's writings, artworks, and cases, create unexpected connections and spark dialogue.
Six Things: Sagmeister & Walsh
March 15 - August 4, 2013
The designers Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh are known for their experimental typography and striking visual imagery. Six Things marks the first exhibition of their newly minted design firm Sagmeister & Walsh. For the last ten years, Sagmeister has researched the nature of happiness, asking, "Is it possible to train my mind in the same way I can train my body?" In five short films and a sculpture, the studio investigates six things, culled from Sagmeister's diary, that he believes have increased his personal happiness. In addition, intrigued by a recent nationwide survey in which Jews reported the highest levels of well-being of all religious groups, Sagmeister & Walsh are creating a new typographic work designed for The Jewish Museum that connects this scientific data to his personal exploration of happiness.