Meanwhile in the Box …

The Many Faces of Isaac and Ismael, Part 4

Our special exhibition, “Obedience. An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway,” has been extended until 15 November 2015. The multimedia art installation takes on the sons’ perspectives of this biblical story, when Abraham intended to sacrifice his son in fulfillment of God’s command. In a film projection at the beginning of the exhibition, visitors are greeted by children, youth and young adults with the words, “I am Isaac” or “I am Ismael,” in a variety of languages.

There’s an interactive component to the exhibition, located in the Eric F. Ross Gallery on the ground floor of the Libeskind Building: A video box where visitors can express these words in their own way and, in so doing, more strongly identify with the child perspective of this story of the attempted sacrifice. We’ve presented a small selection of these video clips on the blog over the last several months.

Lisa Albrecht, continuing her task of compiling the clips, has concluded that Isaac and Ismael not only have many faces, but also many names.

However, not all Museum guests are so ‘obedient’ in fulfilling the video box’s intended purpose:  continue reading


Mensch or Might?

Impressions of the “Obedience” Exhibition, from Muslim and Christian Perspectives

A woman with short hair (left) and a woman with a blue headscarf (right) speaking in a microphone

Silke Radosh-Hinder and Emine Erol in the “Golden Room” © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Svea Pietschmann

During the recent “Long Night of Museums” event, visitors were given a unique introduction to our current temporary exhibition “Obedience. An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway,” when the imam Emine Erol and the pastor Silke Radosh-Hinder led guided tours together. We asked the two women what they made of the occasion, and whether the joint guided tours had opened up novel views and perspectives on the biblical story.

Ms Erol, Ms Radosh-Hinder, would each of you describe the exhibition in your own words?

Silke Radosh-Hinder: For me, the exhibition is above all an opportunity to examine the story of the Binding of Isaac from a myriad of perspectives.

Emine Erol: The primary focus of the Obedience exhibition is the frame of mind of Ismael/Isaak respectively of his father Abraham. By prompting an emotional response and reflection, it helps visitors understand, ultimately, that such surrender may be dangerous or possibly even fatal—and also to understand what may motivate it.  continue reading


Shared Roleplay, Undermined Certainties, Red Rooms and Potato Peelers

A Conversation about the Exhibition “Obedience”

The exhibition “Obedience. An Installation in 15 Rooms by Saskia Boddeke & Peter Greenaway,” which has just been extended for two months, prompts extremely varied visitor responses. Atalya Laufer and Marc Wrasse regularly give guided tours of the exhibition. They talked to me recently about the experiences they’ve had, how they see the exhibition, and what they believe is at the root of visitors’ reactions.

Mirjam Wenzel: What form do your guided tours of the exhibition take?

A female visitor looking at a book, in the background other visitors

Visitor in the “Golden Room” with manuscripts of the three monotheistic religions © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Jule Roehr

Marc Wrasse: We don’t so much guide visitors as accompany them on a three-step journey of discovery. We welcome the group and give a brief introductory talk, during which we point out that the Museum commissioned two artists to create the exhibition. Then, together with the visitors, we read aloud the relevant passage of the Bible—incidentally, the translation by Moses Mendelsohn—before leaving them to the exhibition.

Atalya Laufer: I prefer to use the translation by Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig.

Marc: But you too use roleplay, do you not, when reading the Bible story? That way, we make it clear that we want to explore the exhibition with our visitors and enjoy a shared experience.  continue reading