“I was never disengaged”

A Conversation with Rachel Heuberger on the Biblical Story of the Binding of Isaac and the Exhibition “Obedience”

An old man and a young man, a person dressed in white and a man dressed in dark colours with long red hair and a donkey, all moving on tarmac

Still from a film in the installation “Obedience”
© S. Boddeke & P. Greenaway, photo: Digidaan

The exhibition “Obedience. An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway” has been open for some time now at the Jewish Museum Berlin. As with every exhibition, this one meets the approval of our visitors to various degrees. Unlike other exhibitions however, the feedback – which often reaches us later – is different than what we might have anticipated. Indeed, this was the case with Dr. Rachel Heuberger, the curator of the Hebraica and Judaica collections at the University Library of Frankfurt. We spoke right after her visit about her thoughts and impressions.

Mirjam Wenzel: You just saw the exhibition “Obedience” by Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway. How would you describe it?  continue reading


Towards an Online Platform for Jewish History and Culture

The mid-term online strategy of the Jewish Museum Berlin

photo of a workshop at we are museums 2014

At a wearemuseum’s workshop in Warschau 2014 CC-BY-SA wearemuseums

At the moment, the conference “we are museums” is taking place in the rooms of our Academy. I have been working for days on my keynote lecture in which I take stock of recent developments at our museum. It is almost two years to the day since my colleagues and I first sat down together to discuss the web presence then in place and the cornerstones of its renewal. For while our online activities had been steadily expanding and diversifying, external assessment and target group evaluation revealed that visitors were finding it increasingly difficult to navigate our website. So it was evidently high time to  continue reading


“When civilization goes wrong, there is blood:” A brief exchange with Peter Greenaway

The exhibition “Obedience: An Art Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway” is about to open. It reflects on the biblical story of Abraham, a forefather willing to sacrifice his son in compliance at God’s command.The installation is still being set up when the catalog arrives, hot off the press. It comprises an art book designed by Peter Greenaway as well as a compilation of essays. The artist and filmmaker took a break from the hectic pre-opening preparations to talk with Mirjam Wenzel about the meaning of the biblical story, and the notion of text, image and blood.

Mirjam Wenzel: The biblical story in the Book of Genesis 22 holds an awkward place in Jewish memory and has given rise over the centuries to many theological debates and artistic interpretations. We had been considering doing an exhibition about this story and its reception for a very long time. What did you think when we approached you with the idea of creating this exhibition? How do you perceive this biblical story?  

Peter Greenaway: I think that when making an exhibition it is as important to attend to form and language as to content. The content is always maneuverable, adjustable, and ever subjective. This story consists of very many meanings,  continue reading