PhotographyJewish Culture & IdeasContemporary Art
Oct 23, 2014–Jan 6, 2015
Based on the Talmudic study principle of havruta—the study of religious texts by people in pairs—In That Case at The CJM encourages learning through fellowship for Bay Area artists, established professionals, museum staff, and the entire CJM community. Capitalizing on the unique Jewish perspective, inherent to The Museum, this program takes the practice of havruta and repurpose it for the contemporary art community. Each local artist invited to participate in In That Case is given the opportunity of working with an established writer, scientist, thinker, or academic in a field of their choosing. The resulting collaborations is presented in the Sala Webb Education Center.
The series begins with an exhibition by artist Lindsey White in collaboration with comedian Ron Lynch. Explaining her choice of Lynch, White says, “I’m drawn to his vaudevillian approach, especially the way he transforms into the “magician” Mesmerizo—a bootleg performer whose tricks are hilariously unconcealed. I, too, have been working with the language of magic and comedy to challenge perceptions of the ordinary within my own work. With Ron’s help, I’ll be able to engage in a larger conversation about how to activate a joke and about the physical nature of being a performer. The chance to connect with one of my heroes is a singular opportunity. Whatever happens, it will be unexpected, playful, and slightly stilted.”
Lindsey White (b. 1980, Tulsa, Oklahoma) received her MFA from California College of the Arts. Through video, photography, and sculpture, White is creating a type of sight-gag index, working with the language of magic and comedy to present the unexpected and impossible in everyday life. Additionally, she is part of the collaborative project Will Brown, whose main objective is to manipulate the structures of exhibition-making as a critical practice.
Ron Lynch is an American stand-up comedian, actor, and writer. He has appeared in a number of movies and television shows and has worked as a voice actor for several animated shows, including Home Movies and Tom Goes to the Mayor. He has made guest appearances on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, The Sarah Silverman Program, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and Adventure Time. Lynch hosts a weekly musical and comedic variety show called Tomorrow! every Saturday night at midnight at The Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, California.
In that Case draws inspiration from the traditional Jewish learning method of studying the Talmud in pairs, havruta. The Talmud itself is a book of scholarly exchange with writings outlining Jewish law by multiple rabbinic authors in two parts—the Mishnah, a transcription of the Oral Torah (c. 200 C.E.) and the halakhah, the defining of the laws (c. 500 C.E.).
There are approximately 120 known authors of the Mishnah alone. Contrasted with the university model where students passively listen to lectures to absorb information, havruta demands active participation and engagement with the texts being studied. The root word haver—“friend” in Hebrew—emphasizes the communal nature of learning, and the havruta learning model reflects the Jewish affinity for asking questions and grappling with complex topics, together.
In That Case: Havruta in Contemporary Art is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco.
Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.