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Current Exhibition

14.3.24 - until all hostages return

Welcome Home / Come Home

Artists: Nelly Agassi, Emmanuel Evron-Agassi

Curator: Dr. Shir Aloni Yaari

This neon piece regularly flashes, causing the letters 'Wel' to disappear and reappear, while the phrase 'Come Home' persists as a poignant plea for the return of the hostages. This expression signifies their absent presence in the collective imagination.


Nelly Agassi created this neon installation with her son, Emmanuel, in a large-scale version that is on permanent display at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, where Agassi and her family immigrated from Israel thirteen years ago. In its original location, in a long passageway leading to the passport checkpoints and reception hall, the minimalist sign, written in a hesitant childlike handwriting, illuminates personal and collective experiences of distance, longing, and the ambivalence of being neither here nor there, while succinctly expressing the expectation and relief of coming home.
Commissioned by Museum on the Seam following the events of October 7 and the ensuing war, Agassi created a smaller version of the work. Its present location and the timing of its exhibition lend the ghostly inscription flickering on the wall different meanings and contexts. Displayed in an uncanny space inside the museum – a former Palestinian home turned military post – the work is now seen from a perspective overwhelmed by sights of abandoned, burnt, and bombarded houses. Like a broken road sign, the work blinks alternately, with the letters ‘Wel’ appearing and vanishing and the words “come home” remaining like a wish or hope suspended in empty space. Echoing the ongoing traumatic present of refugees, displaced persons, and evacuees for whom home has become a site of loss and catastrophe, above all the work seems to capture the twilight zone of the hostages. Suggesting a desperate, hopeful-demanding call for their release, it contains the consolation of those already home, while expressing their absent presence, from which there is no relief. 


14.3.24 - 31.5.24


Artist: Assi Meshullam

Curator: Dr. Shir Aloni Yaari

As a continuation and development of the anti-purist artistic practices and beliefs that Meshullam formulated in his canonical works, the exhibition offers a heterogeneous space of observation and thought – "heterosophical" in the artist's language – based on contradiction, investigation, and doubt.

In modern Hebrew, the word “Tophet” (Inferno) means catastrophe, horror, and destruction, of excruciating pain, protracted torture, or the scene of disaster and ruin. This semantic wealth is inherent in the biblical instances of the term, whose origin in the custom of sacrificing children and passing them through fire as part of the polytheist worship of the Moloch deity at Gehenna in the outskirts of Jerusalem. This context has contributed to another sense of the term – a site of great fire, a pyre, or crematorium, which serves as the etymological element identifying “inferno” with “hell” (geihinom). With regard to the ancient pagan ritual, medieval exegetics have interpreted the word “inferno” as related to drumming (tifuf), suggestive of the Moloch priests’ practice of beating drums in order to silence the shrieks of the children being sacrificed. According to some exegetics, the latter were instructed to burn themselves on the white-hot arms of a copper idol heated by sizzling embers.  
In the Frankensteinian allegory Vengeance of the Moloch Deity (1968), Hebrew author Yosef Aricha describes the sense of dread and disobedience arising in the idol itself in view of the cruel ritual, whose true nature it realizes as the ceremonious clamor subsides. “Once the priests stop drumming, clattering and rattling; as the dead of night envelops the environs – then the idol heard the weeping of a bereaved mother groveling in the ashes at its feet, kissing-fondling the charred remains of human bones… Then a hidden shudder ran through him, his metal organs shifted, as if yearning to break free of the ritual platform and flee that horrible, burdensome wilderness… Then something agitated in the Moloch’s heart, a vague sensation raged within him, unfathomable thereto; evil thoughts flickered in his mind about the celebrating hordes and the tyrants sacrificing innocent children in his name.”
The installation presented by Assi Meshullam in Inferno is also speechless, and yet also simmering with the reverberations of myths and ethoses both archaic and contemporary – of worship, death ritual and human sacrifice. Central to the space is the “Moloch”, his iconic-iconoclastic statue, an adorned and horned hybrid figure, in shades of earth and flesh, a kind of mixture of the red heifer of ritual purity and the golden calf of cultic ignominy, blending dichotomous concepts of faith and heresy, sanctity and profanity, religiosity and nationality, victim and victimizer.
On the opposite wall, we see a collection of new works, part pictures, part reliefs, part dedication plaques in muddy-charred materiality, which display a complementary visual and semantic field of an underworld of the darkness of the shadow of death, dominated by demons and hybrid ghostlike creatures. A closer look reveals the artist’s calculated eclecticism, which borrows iconographies and symbols from diverse cultures, eras and mystic and aesthetic traditions – the Egyptian Books of the Dead, Christian catacombs, Renaissance frescos, Tarot cards, modern paintings, found objects and calligraphies – to create a multilayered artistic-ritualistic complex that defies interpretation and refuses to be pigeonholed into distinct conceptual and stylistic categories. A similar polysemy characterizes the deliberately inscrutable archetypes and “incantations” that fill the murky universe – a Promethean-Luciferian Light Bearer, a cross framed as a bull’s-eye or firing sight, angels-demons holding a ladder for souls to climb up to heaven or down to hell – in a way that makes it difficult to determine whether we are faced by an ancient curse or apotropaic talismans for healing and protection.
Inferno follows upon and further hones the anti-purist artistic and religious practices developed by Meshullam in his canonic The Order of the Unclean and Ro’achem. The latter is a pseudo-theological biographic text about a divine leader whose name combines the words “evil” (ro’a) and shepherd (ro’e), parts of whose violent and morally decrepit doctrine are buried under the plaster on the museum’s second floor, as a remnant from the exhibition Affected. The works included in the current exhibition offer a heterogeneous space for reflection – “heterosophic” – as the artist calls it, based on contradiction, inquisitiveness and doubt. In their constant movement between the metaphorical and concrete, the symbolic and real, the ancient and contemporary, the mythical and political, Meshullam’s vision seem to offer supratemporal metaphors for the here and now.



Rebel Women of the Apocrypha

In collaboration with the Jerusalem Biennale

Artist: Marcelle Hanselaar

Curator: Dr. Shir Aloni Yaari

A series of engravings captures the stories of formidable women in the Bible and external texts, which serve as the antithesis to the expected roles of 'nice,' good, and obedient women prescribed by the male order. Their subversive confrontations with powerful and influential men have inspired numerous interpretations across generations.

The fifteen stories chosen by Marcelle Hanselaar as the catalyst for her new series have their origin in the Judaeo-Christian biblical tradition, but she does not come to them from a faith background. Rather, these tales about powerful women caught her imagination over a period of decades, through their manifold cultural and art historical representations. What she liked about them was the no-nonsense, I-will-do-it-my-way attitude of the women. As the artist puts it, “These ancient imaginary narratives give us a much-needed energising subversiveness” in a world where deep-seated patriarchal attitudes are far from dead.
Hanselaar has called the protagonists of her series ‘rebels’ and she has used the word ‘feisty’ to describe them. It truly sums up this assortment of women. Look at each etching and then decide which of the various meanings of ‘feisty’ applies: lively, determined, courageous, spirited, spunky, plucky, strong-willed, or adamant. All these women are rebels against a male-dominated order of things, but Hanselaar is not thereby arguing they are all ‘good’ heroines, nor that they are always (although frequently) just and vindicable as victims-turned-avengers. Bold, assertive, or even outright aggressive, within the artist’s vivid portrayals they are all, however, brazenly “on top”: commanding their own sexuality, agency, position, and plot. Through a forceful blend of expressive characterisation, dark humour, and idiosyncratic style that draws inspiration from such print masters and storytellers as Francisco Goya and Paula Rego, Hanselaar presents us with a fresh take on these age-old myths that both inscribes the engrained vilification and demonisation of women in Western culture, and defiantly reclaims their unruly power. The artist adds her own ideas as an interpreter rather than as an illustrator of the biblical scenes in order to bring these stories to life for a 21st century audience.


14.3.24 - 31.5.24

Emei Mountains

In collaboration with the Jerusalem Biennale

Artist: Bingyi

Curator: Leeza Ahmady

Bingyi's diverse artistic practice encompasses environmental land art, musical and literary composition, ink painting, and performance. Drawing inspiration from landscape paintings and ancient Daoist philosophy, she adopts a non-anthropocentric perspective to connect with nature's creative forces.

The Foundation for Spirituality and the Arts (FSA) presents "Emei Mountains," a large scroll painting and a performance documentation video by the renowned Beijing and Los Angeles-based artist Bingyi created in 2018 at sacred Buddhistes mountain sites in China as a land and weather project that registers the effects of wind, sun, humidity, air pressure, and terrain with ink and water on bespoke xuan paper.
Bingyi's multifaceted practice spans ink, environmental and performance art, and site-specific architectural installations referencing Chinese Shan Shui landscape painting and ancient Daoist philosophy by adopting a non-anthropocentric perspective to channel nature's creative agency. Her inspiration for this work, part of an ongoing series called the "Weeping Mountains and Rivers," originated from a transcendental experience she had in 2009 while visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem. She reflects on her extraordinary encounter: "I stood there in awe and had a vision, seeing vast crying rivers; it felt like a whirling motion of collective weeping that feeds and cleanses all of the world's rivers. I credit this vision for taking up ink as my primary medium from that moment on."
In her large-scale ink paintings, Bingyi uses ink as "dark light" – carbon, an absolute absorber of light in water, nature's universal translucent solvent – to illuminate the usually invisible and transient physical processes that enable ordered patterns and forms to arise from chaos. Over months or even years, she collaborates with the environmental conditions of a specific site to capture a reality-scaled record of the climatic and topological forces shaping a natural or urban landscape. She then uses installation and performance to recuperate these forces in the live embodied experience of the viewer.
Moreover, the Emei Mountains performance and subsequent scroll paintings also represent the artist’s contemporary response to Ma Yuan’s famous water studies from the Southern Song Dynasty. Site-specifically created in China’s Taihang Mountains, her land-and-weather art practice engages China’s historical discourse on landscape painting for the first time. The accompanying video captures the lengthy process of Bingyi’s work created within nature.


14.3.24 - 31.5.24

Orayta: From Content to Form

In collaboration with the Jerusalem Biennale

Curator: Dr. David Spreber

The exhibition seeks to present a new artistic trend, of works that mark the value of the sacred text precisely through its materiality.

Contemporary artists use sacred texts as raw materials in their works. They choose to engage with the materiality of the text itself by copying, overlaying, stamping and blurring it. These works emphasize the value of the sacred text itself through its materiality, which tradition treats as sacred beyond its content. The evolution from focusing on the meaning of the text to examining its materiality and structure is one of the prominent elements in contemporary Jewish art. The shift from narrative to form and from semantics to the physicality of texts crystallizes into works that can be understood as traces of an action in which the materiality of the text and the idea of embedded holiness is the content of the work. Once the text has been severed from its textuality, its materiality, previously unremarkable, is discovered. Orayta examines various incarnations of this trend and suggests understanding it as a new kind of Torah study.

Helène Aylon
Arie Aroch
Avraham Eilat
Ofra Erel
Andi Arnovitz
Netanel Bollag
Raya Bruckenthal
Nechama Golan
Adi Drimer
Jack Jano
Yael Kanarek
Roo Cohen Eilam
Raffi Lavie
Eti Levi
Michal Na’aman
Efrat Nehama
Nona Orbach
Israel Rabinovitz
Dafna Shalom
Joseph Sassoon Semah
Michael Sgan Cohen
Arik Weiss
Drora Weitzman


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