INTERFAITH FALAFEL CONVERSATION

 

August 25, 2013

Actual Size Los Angeles is pleased to invite you to , “Interfaith Falafel Conversation: Religion, Identity and Crossing Borders”. Visitors are welcomed to share a falafel as they join a discussion between Rumaisa Rahman and Zack Ritter, Alumni from NewGround: A Muslim Jewish Partnership for Change, Moderated by Sarah Bassin, Executive Director of NewGround.

 

NewGround began in 2006 as a response to the climate of tension and mistrust between Jews and Muslims in Los Angeles, but more importantly, NewGround was founded to create a national model for healthy relations, productive engagement and social change between American Muslims and Jews. To transform the landscape, the Muslim Public Affairs Council and Progressive Jewish Alliance joined forces to create a fellowship for emerging Muslim and Jewish leaders to change the tone of the conversation. Today, NewGround is an independent group fiscally sponsored by Community Partners and housed at the City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission.

 

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Rumaisa Rahman is the CEO and Founder of an Entertainment Company called RU ENTERTAINMENT that promotes South Asian and Middle Eastern talent in film, fashion, music, sports, art and entertainment. Rumaisa was recently asked by the Consul General of Pakistan, Riffat Masood, to serve as an organizer for the first Pakistani American Youth/Young Professionals Conference held in Los Angeles this past November. Rumaisa also serves on the board of Young MALAC (Young Muslim American Leadership Advisory Council) – an organization that empowers communities by bridging the gap between law enforcement and American Muslims through positive solutions.

 

Zachary Ritter is the Director of Academic Support and Career Services at American Jewish University. He has a Ph.D. in Education from UCLA, where he studied East Asian international students' experiences with cross-racial/cultural interaction. He has facilitated intergroup dialogue courses on race, faith, and socio-economic-status at UCLA. His interest in history, race relations, and faith-based discrimination stem from stories of Auschwitz from his grandmother as well as stories of American civil rights movements from his father.

 

Sarah Bassin is the Executive Director of NewGround. Sarah graduated summa cum laude with a BA in religion and history from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Upon graduation, she worked at Princeton University's Hillel. Having served as student rabbi of Congregation Bamidbar in Victorville, CA, and as rabbinic intern at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Sarah has also served as the program manager at the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, where she implemented the first comprehensive survey on Muslim-Jewish relations in the United States. She received a certificate in Jewish Communal Service in August 2010 and was ordained as a rabbi in May 2011. In 2012, Sarah received a fellowship with the Joshua Venture Group Dual Investment Program that supports rising Jewish innovators and their projects with a grant of $100,000 over two years. She also serves as the mentorship coordinator for the School of Jewish Nonprofit Management at Hebrew Union College.

 

Borderlands is a group exhibition that features work by Daniel Kiczales, Tanja Schlander, Corrie Siegel and Rona Yefman. The works on view explore the interaction between multiculturalism, nationality, politics, and how they affect the individual. Each artist navigates barriers between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem and the surrounding region. Displaced many miles from its geographic subject, the exhibition situates Middle Eastern border issues spatially within Los Angeles. Sound, video and drawings shape an intimate space for dialogue about the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict as well as our relationship to place and the borders we create.

 

Jerusalem and Los Angeles are landscapes sculpted by boundaries, points of cultural diffusion and outsider interpretations. The exhibition and its supplemental events aim to voice the intercultural dialogues that are occurring in Israel today, as well as link Los Angeles viewers directly to these concerns. Borderlands explores the often polarizing topic of Israel's boundaries through work that considers the complexity of this conflict.

 

In Rona Yefman and Tanja Schlander’s video, "Pippi Longstocking at Abu Dis" a Pippi Longstocking character in the Palestinian neighborhood Abu Dis struggles to pull down the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank. An adult Pippi approaches borders with a comic absurdity. The archetypal strong girl charismatically asks us to suspend disbelief. Earnest and playful, she prompts both passersby and the viewer of the work to bridge walls while working to tear them down.

 

“The Messenger” also shows an individual attempting to physically unite a divided terrain, this time through the creation and interpretation of sound. Daniel Kiczales stands upon Mount Scopus with guitar, his back facing the viewer. We look alongside him toward the Isswiya village, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The musician is shown five times, in what seems to be the same day. At the beginning of each clip we hear the call to worship. As the muezzin's voice rises the artist strums passionately, in a gesture that could be seen as offensive or reverent. The structured video conveys a poetic sense of longing through a piece of music that is harmonically resolved.

 

Tanja Schlander’s recordings screech and moan. Like fingernails on a chalkboard the isolated sounds elicit a physiological response. Schlandler drags contact microphones, ordinarily used to amplify acoustic instruments, along either side of the wall that separates Abu Dis and Jerusalem. The audio creates a challenging portrait of the border and highlights how difficult it is to listen through the walls we build.

 

Corrie Siegel's meticulously drawn maps of Israel trace and overlay boundaries to the point of abstraction. The hand drafted works receive their form from strict adherence to source material. However, the lines also record the wavering hand, which subtly shapes and defines new borders with each pass. A record of flawed or subjective mechanics; the images take the form of Rorschach diagrams and tree rings. The principal shape becomes lost within outlines. As viewers' eyes search to find the original map they may find their conclusions reflect their own existing perceptions.

 

Daniel Kiczales is a Jerusalem-based artist and musician. Kiczales received his BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Israel in 2011. Exhibitions include; Art Basel Miami, Miami; Re:visiting Rockefeller, Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem; Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa Museum; Ambiguous Being, Tamtam Art gallery, Berlin, Germany; Kav 16, Tel - Aviv, Israel, Houg-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan; Culture.Climate, Yaffo 23, Jerusalem; and Time / Resistance, Israeli Center for Digital Art, Jerusalem.

 

Tanja Schlander creates visual and sound art. She lives and works in Copenhagen. Schlander received her MFA from the Jutland Academy of Fine Arts in Denmark in 2007. In 2006 she studied at Bezalel Academy in Tel Aviv. Group exhibitions include Post Hiphop,MOHS exhibit, Copenhagen, Denmark; The Girl Effect, Lombard Freid Gallery, New York, NY; She Devil on Tour, The National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), Bucharest, Romania; and Asking We Walk, Voices Of Resistance, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

Corrie Siegel lives and works in Los Angeles. Siegel received her BFA from Bard College, New York in 2007. Selected exhibitions include; The Subterraneans, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; Blank Land, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA; IJAYA, Ben Uri Gallery, London, UK; Re: present LA, Vincent Price Art Museum, Monterey Park, CA; Chainletter, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA; GIBSMIR- Family;Tree Structure, Collective Show LA, Los Angeles, CA; EPCAP, Negative Space, Los Angeles, CA;E'clepsydre, .HBC, Berlin, Germany; Family Stories, Pasadena Museum of History, Pasadena, CA; Photography At High Speed, Millard Sheets Center For The Arts, Los Angeles CA; The Picture Reason, Photographs by Corrie Siegel, Woods Gallery, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; Couperin, Joanie for Jackie Film Festival, New York; Games, Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Smoking Mirrors, UCLA Kerckhoff Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. Siegel is a founder and Co-Director of Actual Size Los Angeles. She is a current Six Points Fellow.

 

Rona Yefman lives and works in New York City. She received her MFA from Columbia University and BFA from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Israel. Solo exhibitions include: Tuff Enuf, Somer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Marth A Bouke, project #4, Derek Eller Gallery, NY; Time Kills, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY; Let It Bleed,Participant Inc., NY; 2 Flags, Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel-Aviv; Bebe- A Family Album,Shapiro Galley, Jerusalem; Bunny on the Roof, Borochove Gallery, Tel Aviv. Group exhibitions include: The Kids Are All Right, The Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC, John Michael Kohler Center, Sheboygan, WI; Composed: Identity, Politics, The Jewish Museum, NY; Prolonged Exposure, CCA, Tel Aviv, Israel; Minor Crops May Occur, Lombard Freid Project, NY; Win Last Don’t Care, Ramiken Gallery, NY, Night Gallery, CA; Living Room, Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, The Tel Aviv Museum, Israel; In-Difensa, International Biennial, Torino, Italy;Hugging and Wrestling, Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, OH; The Girl Effect,Lombard Fried Projects, NY; TLV Time 2009, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel.

 

This exhibition is made possible with support from The Six Points Fellowship. The Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists is a program of the Foundation for Jewish Culture, originally founded in partnership with Avoda Arts, and JDub, with significant funding from The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and the Righteous Persons Foundation.