The Jewish Museum: “Repetition And Difference”, March 2015

I had an opportunity to visit the upcoming exhibit "Repetition And Difference" opening March 13, 2015 at The Jewish MuseumIn my discussion with one of the curators, Susan L. Braunstein, Henry J. Leir Curator, she said: 

“Repetition in art can often be seen as mundane and static, even cookie cutter. This exhibit is trying to show that there is difference if you know where to look.”

And look we did, walking through four rooms of variations, deviations, conformity and repetitions. Many of the objects were created by artisans to be the same - menorahs, mezuzahs, yarmulkes, havdalah containers - items every Jewish family needed in the ancient world (and observant Jews still need today). Human nature has an urge to create perfection and also, to have the exact same thing that the proverbial Jones's have. But of course there are deviations, imperfections - we could never clone perfectly. (Think Multiplicity with Michael Keaton.) 

Broadly speaking, automation, starting in the 1800s, strove to eliminate those human variations and create identical products for the masses - think Model TAutomation had a similar effect on art - think Bauhaus and later, Andy Warhol.

But, as we all know, imperfections in our automated world are everywhere: sometimes celebrated (“Look at the mistake on my Warhol lithograph! It’s ten times more valuable now!”); sometimes super annoying (“My iPad is a lemon out of the box! Can't they make these things right?”). 

As a culture, we seem to flip flop on celebrating uniqueness and, in equal measure, striving for a conformity to a norm or for non-existent perfection. 

I'm in the celebrate what is unique camp. I'm in the there is no norm camp. I'm in let your freak flag fly camp.

As a life coach and food allergy counselor, both of which I regard as my art, part of my job is helping my clients come to terms with uniqueness and sameness as people who happen to be diagnosed with severe life threatening food allergies. 

Another example: as a public speaker about lifestyle and managing severe life-threatening food allergies, I may be giving the “same” presentation but it’s never the “same”. Even if it’s a power point deck I’ve used before, there is always deviation in how my core message (see below) is delivered based on a myriad of variables both concrete and abstract: what’s the weather, what did I have for breakfast, how am I feeling that day; do I have new, compelling client-derived anecdotes that will shed new light on an example or a new experiential exercise to drive home a poignant point; what does this particular audience need on this day and what are their reactions in the moment? 

As a social worker, counselor, writer and speaker, my messaging is always consistent around creating food allergy confidence: 
  • Understand your food allergy diagnosis, 
  • Communicate your food allergy diagnosis, 
  • Form positive and supportive relationships around your food allergy diagnosis.

But the delivery -- that is the art. In my art, there is repetition and there is deviation; and they are both valuable and beautiful.


You can check out the upcoming exhibit 
"Repetition And Difference" 
Opening March 13, 2015 
The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave at 92nd St

New York, NY 10128


Popular Posts