The Many Faces of Isaac and Ismael

Video box with Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke

Peter Greenaway and Saskia Boddeke at the video box in the Eric F. Ross Gallery © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Yves Sucksdorff

For the last several weeks, an interactive video box has stood in the Eric F. Ross Gallery, as part of the current special exhibition, “Obedience: An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway.” “Are you Isaac or are you Ismael?” a neon sign asks visitors as they approach the box. The question relates to the story from Chapter 22 of the First Book of Moses, in which God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son. However, Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway turn this story on its head. It’s not the voice of God greeting the visitors at the beginning of their installation, but a large-screen projection of various children and young people presenting themselves, each in their own languages, as Isaac or Ismael.  continue reading


A Film Still in the Mail Box

Daphna Westerman’s Postcards in Motion

black white photograph of Daphna Westerman’s postcards, front view

One of Daphna Westerman’s postcards, front view. © Jewish Museum Berlin, Photo: Lisa Albrecht

Did you find a postcard like this one in your mail box as well? Or have you even pulled the entire road movie by Daphna Westerman out of our Art Vending Machine? By now the Machine is sold out completely. But no need to stop the movie! Let’s just rewind a little…
Before the work of the Israeli artist ended up in the museum’s Art Vending Machine, I received a postcard with a black and white photograph. Except for my address and the title, “U-Bahn Berlin. From In and between the cities, 2011. A film by Daphna Westerman,” there was nothing more to it. A few days later more cards were in the mail. Time to phone Daphna.  continue reading


Friendship You Can Touch

An Interview with Lina Khesina

30 July 2014 is International Friendship Day. But how do we commemorate friendship? Or how do we make it visible? We consulted with communications designer Lina Khesina to find out. She devised a pair of ‘friendship buttons’ that you can get at the moment from the art vending machine in our permanent exhibition. One of them features the word “Tsemed” in Hebrew script, and the other one the word “Chemed.”

The buttons are presented  on the palm of one's hand

The buttons “Tsemed” and “Chemed”.
Photo courtesy of the artist

Lisa Albrecht: Lina, why did you develop this item in particular for the art vending machine?
I had the idea of showing the beauty of the Hebrew language and transmitting it in an everyday way. I don’t actually speak Hebrew myself, but purely from a musical perspective I find it and Spanish the two most beautiful languages. So I really wanted to discover Hebrew for myself and find a constellation of words in the language that I could play with. That’s how these buttons with the wordplay emerged.

How did the wordplay occur to you?
In Russian, best friends are often called “nje rasléj wodá”, which more or less means “even water cannot destroy this bond.” I did some research on whether there’s such an idiom in Hebrew as well and thus learned about “Tsemed Chemed.” Translated literally, it means “sweet entanglement” or “fine pair”, and is an expression for ‘close friends.’

What do these two words have to do with the buttons?
Buttons get sewed on with a thread and become then ‘entangled,’ or interwoven, with the material. Close friends experience something similar, even when they live thousands of kilometers apart. Like the buttons, they’re connected to each other by the thread and the adage.  continue reading