Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life

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Reinventing Ritual: Contemporary Art and Design for Jewish Life

736 Mission Street
(between 3rd and 4th st.)
San Francisco, CA 94103
April 22nd, 2010 - October 3rd, 2010
Opening: April 22nd, 2010 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Daily 11 AM–5 PM, Thursday 11AM–8 PM, Closed Wednesday


Rituals are embedded in everyday life, whether established by religion, culture, or family, and are continuously performed and reinvented by each generation to provide meaning and sustenance for a fulfilling life.  Reinventing Ritual examines a modern hybrid of the prescribed and the personal as contemporary artists tailor Judaic rituals to their own values, identities, and needs.

Reinventing Ritual is the first international exhibition to examine how artists are transforming traditional practices into opportunities for contemplation and critique.  The exhibition surveys works by more than 58 artists, including Oreet Ashery, Jonathan Adler, Helene Aylon, Galya Rosenfeld, and Allan Wexler, who are exploring Judaism as a vital, multicultural, and contradictory force. Working in diverse media, like installation art, video, comics, ceramics, textiles, industrial design and architecture, the artists seek common values and authentic experiences to render Jewish practices open and inclusive.

Jewish ritual objects and their broader significance have been a major focus of the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibition program, as exemplified by the invitational exhibition series.  The CJM’s Invitationals invigorate Jewish material culture and heritage by inviting artists of diverse backgrounds to create new interpretations of Judaica and ritual.

Reinventing Ritual creates an invaluable platform for our diverse audience to explore the role of ritual in strengthening identity and building community.  The works on view interpret Judaism as a living, changing experience, rather than one fixed in text or custom. To that end, they are arranged in four thematic nodes: Thinking, Covering, Absorbing, and Building. These themes focus on ritual as physical action related to specific acts such as eating, drinking, counting, smelling, lighting candles, and praying, essentially grounding them in things shared by all people–food, clothes, the environment.