Chosen seminar [DAL, Holon]

The gathering takes place in the framework of the exhibition ’Chosen’ and will address the affinity between Messianism and Nationalism in Polish and Israeli narratives. 

Conference Schedule: 

Galit Eilat & Aneta Szyłak – Opening remarks

Dr. Eli Shai – Portrait of the Messiah as an Artist

We can relate the alleged messianic character to the religious archetype, but in the specific case of Shabtai Zvi and quite possibly not in his case only, the messianic character manifests itself as the artist. Shabtai Zvi’s primary expertise in the field of music is as a performing artist – and to be more precise, in the area of Romanza in Ladino, through which he improvises according to his hidden agendas. 

Above and beyond his musical abilities, he is an actor in a theatre of personalities built around himself as the embodiment of the beautiful and the charismatic, and even as a man capable of burning, or literally in Israeli slang, “to light up” those watching. The image of the Messiah as an artist also raises issues in relation to his identity and personality as an object for art production. 

Dr. Eli Shai, cultural critic and independent researcher, has published numerous texts on the subject of Israeli literature and Jewish culture. He is author of the book, ”The Messiah of Incest,” a new uncensored history of the sexual foundations of Messianic Jewish Mysticism, and ”Nada Nada,” on the veracity of the falsely upheld Messiah. He is Doctor of Jewish mysticism and Israeli literature. 

Roee Rosen – Justine and Jacob Frank.

Justine Frank (1900-1943) is a Belgian, Jewish artist and author of pornography. Her first European retrospective will open in January, 2009, in Extra City in Antwerp, her city of birth. 

The artist Justine Frank was born in Antwerp in 1900 and died in Tel Aviv in 1943. Both Frank’s paintings and the only book she authored, the pornographic novel “Sweet Sweat” (1931) feature a disturbing and uncommon juxtaposition of explicit sexual imagery and images related to Judaism. With the renewed interest in this forgotten artist, the motives behind her fusion of transgression and Judaism were understood in different interpretational contexts. The talk will focus on the affinity between Justine Frank and the Polish, Jewish mystic, Jacob Frank, in the context of the exhibition and discourse which juxtapose Israeli and Polish identities with Messianism. 

Roee Rosen is an artist and author. He teaches art at The Midrasha School of Art at Beit Berl College, and at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.

Dr. Agata Bielik-Robson – The Apocalyptic Breeze: Nihilism as a Messianic Strategy

The aim of the presentation is to give a short philosophical outline of the messianic idea in Judaism, which influenced many revolutionary and anarchic movements in the history of the West, both Jewish and Christian, religious and secular. Most of all, d like to emphasize the highly specific internal link that connects Jewish Messianism with a certain version of nihilistic attitude which results in all sorts of antinomian strategies, aiming at shaking the metaphysical structure of the world and bringing it to its violent, apocalyptic end. This, as Gershom Scholem calls it, “apocalyptic breeze,” which “airs the well-ordered house of Judaism.”

By using the abstract foil of the messianic idea delivered by Scholem, I would like to juxtapose two modes of the messianic thinking: Jewish and Polish. I want to show how the Jewish Messianism influenced the political writings of the most famous Polish romantic poet, Adam Mickiewicz, and suggest that the difference between these two Messianism lies precisely in their attitude towards the issue of nihilism: while the Jewish thinkers tend to show in this matter a considerable daring, the Polish writers, who, because of their Catholicism, remain within the frame of providential metaphysics, usually refrain from a full embracement of the nihilistic and antinomian strategies and appear in contrast rather timid.

Agata Bielik-Robson is a philosopher and professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.

Dr. Yoav Kenny – Messiah Now! Giorgio Agamben and the Messianic Time of the Political

Though in recent years the political theories of Italian contemporary philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, have become widespread in intellectual and artistic circles, the primary role Messianism holds in his theories do not receive due credit. The talk seaks to explore the Jewish origins (Kafka, Sholem, Benjamin) of Agamben’s perception of Messianism and to consider how it is used to describe the contemporary political condition of the West. 

Yoav Kenny is writing his PhD in political theory at the School of Philosophy at the University of Tel Aviv. His Masters dealt with the relationship between time, law, and sovereignty in the works of Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben.

+++Entrance is complimentary; however please call to confirm a place, 03-556-8792, 16 Yirmiyahu Street, Holon.