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My Golem as a Wildland Firefighter

My Golem as a Wildland Firefighter follows Weitz’s golem as she trains to be a wildland firefighter in Tahoe National Forest (Washoe land), and discovers the generative nature of fire. As she undergoes her training, Golem becomes an advocate for controlled burns, a method long used by California’s Indigenous communities, and seeks to educate the public about their efficacy in managing megafires, an increasingly devastating aspect of life in California.

This video is presented as a take on public service announcements promoting healthy fire ecology. Throughout, Golem demonstrates basic firefighting training techniques and scouts the scorched backdrop of Tahoe National Forest, where she trained at the University of California, Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station.

In this vein, Golem acts as a counterimage to Smokey the Bear—educating the public using Jewish theological concepts and contemporary ecological thought to emphasize her role as a sacred clown and diasporic Jewish justice seeker, while opposing the United States Forest Service's longstanding suppression of Indigenous cultural fire.

Weitz has created this project in collaboration with videographers Ellie McCutcheon and Steve Dunsky. Music by Nyxe. 

About the Exhibition

Uncanny, mysterious, and satirical, GOLEM: A Call to Action is an exhibition by artist Julie Weitz that draws on Jewish folklore to inspire action around social justice and environmental disasters. The exhibition’s three works—Golem v. Golem, My Golem as a Wildland Firefighter, and Prayer for Burnt Forests—frame a view of nature that emphasizes cultural issues and ecological catastrophe, while acknowledging human beings’ implicit responsibility for repair.

An image of My Golem running across a dusty path
About the Artist
Headshot of Julie Weitz
Julie Weitz

Julie Weitz ​is a Los Angeles–based artist working in video, performance, and installation. Weitz has been featured in ​Artforum, Art in America, The L.A. Times, The New York Times, Bomb Magazine, L.A. Confidential, Photograph Magazine, Hyperallergic​ and on ​KCRW​. She is a 2020–2021 Cultural Trailblazer of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and a Helix Fellow at Yiddishkayt. Weitz is also ​a 2020 recipient of the Fulcrum Arts Emerge Program and a 2019 nominee for the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Weitz has received grants from the California Center for Cultural Innovation, Asylum Arts, American Jewish University, the Banff Centre and the Memorial Foundation of Jewish Culture. She currently teaches in Los Angeles and is a contributing writer to ​Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles. Weitz also founded the Instagram account @Jews4BlackLives, which serves as an educational hub for the Jewish activist community in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Weitz can also be found on Instagram @mygolem_is_here.

Supporters

GOLEM: A Call to Action is organized by The Contemporary Jewish Museum and is co-curated by Qianjin Montoya, Assistant Curator, and Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator. Leadership support is generously provided Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt.

Image Credit

Prayer for Burnt Forest (4), archival inkjet print, variable dimensions, 2021. Photo: Aaron Farley