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Izhar Patkin’s monumental glass sculpture \, The Messiah’s glAss\, was produced over a period of five years at the Centre International de Recherche Sur le Verre et les Arts Plastique s (CIRVA)\, Marseille\, France\, and is presented inside You Tell Us Wh at to Do Act III\, a painting for four walls on pleated illusion (tull e) veils\, which envelops the gallery like a continuous\, ethereally transl ucent mural.

Both the emblematic\, transparent sculpture and th e ephemeral images in the painting seem suspended between appearance and di sappearance. Patkin’s translucent materials and associative narratives work together to convey a purposefully multifaceted encounter for the visitor. He creates cinematic dreamscapes in which histories\, memories\, and ideolo gies coalesce.

About the Work
A collage o f ghostly imagery drawn from foundational events and myths of the creation of modern Israel greets the viewer. We see Arabs clustered on a beach betwe en Tel Aviv and Jaffa before 1948\; a hybrid Bauhaus-Orientalist synagogue built by Patkin’s great-grandfather in Netanya\; and a boy on a donkey. In the foreground Theodor Herzl\, the founder of Zionism\, presides over a sta tely European dining table. On the center wall the ship Altalena b urns\, destroyed in June 1948 in a confrontation between two branches of th e nascent Israeli military. Before it\, a desolate road leads to the Red Mo untains of Jordan. A cart of antiquities thieves carrying busts of the Roma n emperors Tiberius and Caligula stands near a cruciform utility pole. Thes e suggestive images play hide-and-seek through the folds in the veils\, off ering impressions of fleeting\, refracted forms.

The glass scul pture addresses the same foundational themes in allegorical terms. The deca pitated head of a donkey lies atop a palanquin like the one that carried th e biblical Ark of the Covenant. This table doubles as the animal’s body—leg s\, tail\, and testicles. The title refers to a tradition originating in th e Book of Zechariah\, who prophesies that the Messiah will arrive riding a lowly ass. Parallel to Herzl’s vision\, at the turn of the twentieth centur y\, the influential Zionist theologian Rabbi Abraham Kook used this image a s a parable of the creation of the State of Israel. For him\, the donkey re presented the secular Jew whose material power and energy would make him th e vehicle of God\, creating the nation-state of Israel. This event in itsel f would correct the profane secularity of the age of modernist Enlightenmen t. Its rider was the religious Jew\, who would eventually lead it. The them e has been invoked to justify a range of national and religious ideologies concerning righteousness\, redemption\, and liberation. The contemporary sc holar Sefi Rachlevsky\, tracing the history of the idea\, uses the Messiah’ s Ass to argue that religious orthodoxy has overwhelmed secular Israel. In his 1998 best seller\, The Messiah’s Ass\, he names Patkin’s secul ar contemporaries the generation of the Messiah’s Ass.

Patkin’s metaphors respond to this layered\, contentious narrative. In the sculpture the ass’s head wears a crown made of donkey ears. Is it a pagan laurel wre ath? A Torah crown? Is the donkey the artist himself? The imagery imprinted on the diaphanous veils and in the crystalline sculpture is thus freighted with biblical promises\, Zionist aspirations\, autobiographical allusions\ , and\, not least\, the realities of contemporary Israel.

About the Artist
Izhar Patkin was born in Israel in 1955 an d has lived in the United States since 1977. He gained recognition in the m id-1980s with The Black Paintings\, done in white ink on black rub ber curtains. These were an inventive visual adaptation of Jean Genet’s pla y The Blacks: A Clown Show. His work has been collected in depth b y the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum\; the Museum of Modern Art\; the Whitney Museum of American Art\; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art\; the Open Museum\, Te fen\; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art\; the Museum of Contemporary Art \, Los Angeles\; and many other prominent institutions. He has exhibited ex tensively worldwide.
DTEND:20121111 DTSTAMP:20141026T062700 DTSTART:20120914 GEO:40.7853715;-73.9575818 LOCATION:The Jewish Museum\,1109 Fifth Avenue (at 92nd Street) \nNew York\, NY 10128 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:The Messiah’s glAss\, Izhar Patkin UID:231579 END:VEVENT BEGIN:VEVENT DTEND:20120914T174500 DTSTAMP:20141026T062700 DTSTART:20120914T110000 GEO:40.7853715;-73.9575818 LOCATION:The Jewish Museum\,1109 Fifth Avenue (at 92nd Street) \nNew York\, NY 10128 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:The Messiah’s glAss\, Izhar Patkin UID:231580 END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR