New York exhibitions. The Jewish Museum Presents Exhibition of Contemporary Art and Collection Objects that Explore Repetition and Difference in Art With Over 350 Works of Contemporary Art, Judaica, and Archaeological Objects.
New York exhibitions. Artists throughout history have commonly employed repetition— artworks in series, multiples, and copies— for reasons ranging from the commercial to the subversive, while the value placed on repetitions in comparison with “original” works has varied widely. On view at the Jewish Museum from March 13 to August 9, 2015, Repetition and Difference explores these concepts through over 350 historic objects from the collection and recent works by contemporary artists, demonstrating how subtle disruptions in form, color, or design can reveal intriguing information about their creation and meaning. Large groups of seemingly identical objects, including silver coins struck in ancient Lebanon and 19th-century Iranian marriage contracts, will be juxtaposed with recent works by emerging and established international artists Walead Beshty, Sarah Crowner, Abraham Cruzvillegas, N. Dash, John Houck, Koo Jeong A, Kris Martin, Amalia Pica, and Hank Willis Thomas.
Repetition and Difference will feature works from the Museum’s collection—one of the largest and most comprehensive Judaica collections in the world—that have never before been exhibited in such profusion. Among the highlights are 45 examples of seemingly identical 18th-and 19th-century Hanukkah lamps from Eastern Europe that, on closer observation, display a multitude of motifs as well as small differences due to model condition or casting flaws. A group of 100 silver coins from 126/25 B.C.E. to 58/59 C.E. provide a rare opportunity to examine the contrast between the remarkable consistency in imagery over time and their variations due to human involvement in the minting process. The exhibition will also include boldly patterned 19th-century German Torah binders, enigmatic Judahite pillar figurines from ancient Israel, ornately decorated 19th-and-20th century Iranian marriage contracts, elegant silver spice containers, mezuzah cases, and more.
These and other selections from the Museum’s Judaica and archaeology holdings, supplemented by loans, will appear in dialogue with recent work by contemporary artists exploring themes of repetition and multiplicity. Walead Beshty, Sarah Crowner, N. Dash, John Houck, Kris Martin, and Hank Willis Thomas work with serial or accumulated forms to evoke the characteristics of mass production or to humanize their chosen materials through handmade variations. Los Angeles-based artist Walead Beshty will show a series of 40-inch flat-screen television sets with large holes drilled through the screens. These altered televisions still function, but display random variations in the picture when powered on. Similarly, N. Dash repetitively folds and rubs identical pieces paper in different ways, and then coats them in graphite to highlight their distinct patterns and texture changes.
Abraham Cruzvillegas, Koo Jeong A, and Amalia Pica will present installations utilizing repetition of common materials to emphasize important variations which only become evident by their accumulation. Stabile (with confetti) by the Argentinian artist Amalia Pica consists of colorful confetti paper strewn in a 19-foot circle and adhered to the floor with transparent tape, exploring concepts of randomness and permanence. The ephemeral items like newspaper clippings, photographs, and drawings assembled by Abraham Cruzvillegas are painted a uniform color and mounted to the wall—rendering them indistinguishable from each other and evoking the ad-hoc construction of residential spaces in the artist’s native Mexico City.
The sometimes imperceptible, sometimes overt variations among these works will foster close reading and thoughtful analysis, in contrast to the often one-dimensional scanning encouraged by digital technologies. Repetition and Difference is titled after Gilles Deleuze’s seminal text Difference and Repetition (1968), a landmark book that fundamentally questioned concepts of identity and representation and proposes that repetition is not finite, but rather a reinvention—an “active force producing difference.”
Repetition and Difference will feature over 350 works of contemporary art, archaeology, and Judaica: Walead Beshty; Sarah Crowner; Abraham Cruzvillegas; N. Dash; Hanukkah Lamps; John Houck; Koo JeongA; Marriage Contracts; Kris Martin; Mezuzah Cases; Amalia Pica; Pillar Figurines; Skullcaps; Spice Containers; Hank Willis Thomas; Torah Binders; and Tyrian Shekels.
Repetition and Difference is curated by Jens Hoffman, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs and Susan L. Braunstein, Henry J. Leir Curator, with Daniel S. Palmer, Leon Levy Assistant Curator.
Support: Repetition and Difference is generously supported by the Jewish Museum Centennial Exhibition Fund, the Barbara S. Horowitz Contemporary Art Fund, the Joan Rosenbaum Exhibition Fund, and the Leon Levy Foundation.