Nov 19, 2015–Feb 25, 2016
The exhibition Chasing Justice is inspired by the biblical exhortation of Deuteronomy (16:20) to “pursue justice.” Three artists have produced bodies of work that explore different approaches to this Jewish commitment. All have resulted in a variety of engagement with the government from surveillance to arrest.
Arnold Mesches, of New York, has created a large suite of collaged paintings inspired by and incorporating excerpts of his FBI files that he received using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Mesches has been a life-long social activist.
Johanna Barron of Portland, Oregon, also used the FOIA to obtain images of the abstract paintings on display in the hallways of the CIA. She has only been able to gain a partial accounting of these works, which were loaned to the CIA in the 1970s and gifted in the 80s, by a Washington DC Jewish, Republican museum curator named Vincent Melzac. Her exhibition will include Barron's recreations of the paintings in 3/4 scale, and documentation of her research and interactions with the CIA.
Finally, Berkeley artist Robbin Henderson has made a suite of drawings based on the memoir of her grandmother, a Jewish immigrant from Russia who became the leader of the first strike in Detroit against the auto industry and was arrested at the time. The works are original black and white scratchboard drawings for the portfolio, Matilda Robbins: Immigrant, Wobbly, Feminist.
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The Secret Art Collection of the CIA, Vice Motherboard, Germany
The CIA cultivates secrecy even in its art collection, Le Monde
Chasing Justice at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, A Beast in a Jungle
Recreating the CIA's "top secret" abstract painting collection, Boing Boing
CJM: The Art of Spycraft, SF Weekly
Why Does the CIA Keep Its Art Collection Secret?, Hyperallergic
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CJM exhibit on pursuit of justice an homage to Jewish political activism, J Weekly
Why Won't the CIA Reveal the Paintings in Its Secret Art Collection?, artnetnews
Framed by the CIA: spies and their art, SF Gate
The CJM's new exhibition on pursuit of justice, Examiner.com
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Fall Arts 2015: Art, SF Weekly
Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.