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Fierce as Death: Queer as the Song of Songs

Sunday, October 2, 2022 | 12–4:30pm

ADMISSION: Sliding scale $18–$126; ticket includes Museum admission, and all proceeds directly benefit the artists

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2022-10-02 12:00:00 UTC2022-10-02 23:00:00 UTC America/Los_AngelesThe CJM - 736 Mission St, San Francisco, CAFierce as Death: Queer as the Song of SongsArtist, activist, composer, and collaborator Jewlia Eisenberg (z”l) of blessed memory died in March 2021. Throughout her career, Jewlia worked in immersive installation—making hybrid spaces that incorporate music performance, visitor participation, and ritual. On October 2, a group of artists, friends, musicians and spiritual teachers from around the country will continue that practice through an exploration of Jewlia’s love of the Song of Songs—a poem of undomesticated freedom in a world of abundance. Join in a celebration that pays homage to Jewlia’s work, exploring her musical canon and presenting new art rooted in the pursuit of justice and learning.

Artist, activist, composer, and collaborator Jewlia Eisenberg (z”l) of blessed memory died in March 2021. Throughout her career, Jewlia worked in immersive installation—making hybrid spaces that incorporate music performance, visitor participation, and ritual. On October 2, a group of artists, friends, musicians and spiritual teachers from around the country will continue that practice through an exploration of Jewlia’s love of the Song of Songs—a poem of undomesticated freedom in a world of abundance, free of patriarchy, and a subject of Jewlia’s ongoing Queer Piyutim project.

Schedule of events

12–2pm

Immersive Museum Experience

The CJM

Timed groups will enter The Museum for an immersive ritual installation designed by Seth Eisen, drawn from Jewlia’s archives and inspired by her art and activism. The installation is part memorial and part dazzling activation inspired by Jewlia’s proposal to creatively engage with and queer the Song of Songs while considering her connection to faith, roots, power, and deep, soul-filling beauty. Dive into four separate hybrid spaces that incorporate music, artwork, performance, video, and a collection of Jewlia’s riveting archives. Installations will feature Jen Hofer, Maggid Eli (Andrew) Ramer, Chani Bockwinkel, and Jenny Romaine.

To take advantage of the full experience, we encourage visitors to come prepared to spend at least one hour in the indoor/outdoor installations prior to the concert. Installations will be on view from 12–2pm and briefly after the concert until 4:50pm. Two of the installations can only be experienced prior to the concert.

2:30–4:30pm

Outdoor Concert

Jesse Square Plaza

A concert honoring Jewlia will begin outside The CJM starting at 2:30pm, featuring musicians from throughout the U.S. performing Jewlia's music. The concert will be directed by Marika Hughes and Dan Cantrell and will feature Frank London, Cynthia Taylor, Mathias Kunzli, Nina Rolle, Ianna Owens, Jeremiah Lockwood, Ganda Suthivarikom, Jess Ivry, Jason Ditzian, Shahzad Ismaily, Michael Pinkham, and other special guests. Weather can vary greatly throughout a San Francisco fall afternoon; prepare for the outdoor concert by bringing layers, sunscreen, and water. Lunchtime food options available at The Museum and the surrounding area.

Co-presented by the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival.

About the Song of Songs

Commissioned by the Creative Work Fund, Fierce as Death: Queering the Song of Songs was a part of Jewlia’s ongoing Queer Piyutim project. For Jewlia, the Song of Songs offered fluidity between male and female voices and suggests a non-binary, queer Eden where people, animals, and plants can all be erotic subjects, in constant relation and transformation. In our present moment, the image of a world free of borders and hierarchy resonates now more than ever. Fierce As Death is a perfect place to start.

Buy Tickets

Tickets for this in-person event are available by clicking below. Museum admission is included in your ticket. Before you arrive at The Museum, please take a moment to review our health and safety guidelines

About Jewlia
Photo of Jewlia Eisenberg singing into a microphone
Jewlia Eisenberg

Jewlia Eisenberg (z"l) worked at the intersection of voice, text, and diaspora consciousness, primarily as the leader of the ensemble Charming Hostess. Duets include "Book of J" with Jeremiah Lockwood and "Red Pocket" with Marika Hughes. Her music is mostly released on the Tzadik label Radical Jewish Culture imprint. Her recordings include Sarajevo Blues on Bosnian resistance poetry and Trilectic on the political-erotic world of Walter Benjamin. She often works in immersive installation, creating hybrid spaces that incorporate music performance, visitor participation, and experimental ritual. Installations include Teraphim (Meridian Gallery) on household gods; and The Bowls Project (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), focused on Babylonian women’s amulets. Eisenberg's work has been curated into The Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Museum of Peace in Uzbekistan. She performed regularly in Europe and the Americas. She has been a visiting artist at CalArts, MIT, and the University of Colorado, where she taught on the boundary lands holding music and critical theory. Her interests included class war and knitting. Brooklyn-born and bred, she last lived in Oakland, with her spouse, AnMarie Rodgers. Jewlia died on March 11, 2021.

About the Artists
Headshot of Seth Eisen
Seth Eisen

Seth Eisen is an artist, writer, director, dramaturg, historian, and archivist. His work is a hybrid of visual art and live performance, blurring the edges of art, research and activism. Eisen is the Artistic Director of Eye Zen Presents and engages LGBTQ2IA+ history as a living, breathing dialogue by researching lost legacies. He has a passion for creating oral histories and archives to help preserve the legacies of artists and change makers. A Radical Faerie ritualist, Eisen creates immersive environments and images that center on the retrieval of queer ancestors, sacred queer sites, and the collective memory of the queer body. Trained as a visual artist and performer at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Naropa University, and John F. Kennedy University, he has worked as an arts educator, mentor, and lecturer for over thirty years. Since 1993 Eisen has staged performance pieces, street spectacles, and installations and has curated and appeared in numerous collaborative projects with other Bay Area artists including Butoh companies Harupin-Ha and Ink Boat from 1994–99 and 2000–2010 with Keith Hennessy and Circo Zero touring across the U.S. and Europe. His solo performances, visual art, and installation projects have been featured locally at spaces from YBCA and Oakland Museum of California and in numerous art spaces on both coasts for over thirty years. In 2007, Eisen founded Eye Zen Presents, an ensemble theater company that creates live performance and community-building events illuminating under-recognized queer ancestors combining physical theater, dance, puppetry, drag, circus, installation and video art.

Photo of Marika Hughes
Marika Hughes

Marika Hughes is a native New Yorker, cellist, singer, and a storyteller on The Moth. She grew up in a musical family—Hughes' grandfather was the great cellist Emanuel Feuermann, and her parents owned a jazz club, Burgundy, on the Upper West Side. As children, she and her younger brother were both regulars on Sesame Street, and attended the beloved Manhattan Country School. Hughes continued her education in the double degree program at Barnard College and the Juilliard School, graduating with BAs in political science and cello performance, respectively.

Marika has worked with Whitney Houston, Lou Reed, Anthony Braxton, David Byrne, Adele, Henry Threadgill, D’Angelo, Idina Menzel, Nels Cline, and Somiand Taylor Mac, among many others. She was a founding member of the Bay Area-based bands 2 Foot Yard (Two Foot Yard, Tzadik 2003 & Borrowed Arms, Yard Work, 2008) and Red Pocket (Thick, Tzadik 2004). She is a master teacher and director for Young Arts and a teaching-artist at Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project. She currently holds the cello chair at the Broadway show, Hadestown. Hughes has self-released three albums: The Simplest Thing (2011), Afterlife Music Radio (2011), and New York Nostalgia (2016). She happily leads her bands Bottom Heavy and The New String Quartet, and is the co-founder and co-director of Looking Glass Arts (LGA), an artist residency and youth education program in upstate New York. With a commitment to a sliding scale fee structure, LGA is democratizing access to the space, time, and natural beauty critical to artistic and educational growth. Hughes lives in the countryside of Kings County.

Supporters

Fierce as Death: Queer as the Song of Songs was made possible in part by a grant from The Creative Work Fund, a program of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund that also is supported by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.