Ruth Schreiber’s exhibition, entitled Ve-rachok mi-peninim michra (For her price
is far beyond rubies, Proverbs 31:10) examines the roots of the feminine image,
focusing on biblical women, providing them with a heroic, tragic and sometimes
Schreiber turns the exhibition space into a mysterious and provocative site of
investigation. She offers the viewer the opportunity to re-examine the presence and
role of women in history and culture. Schreiber’s staged photography introduces
an innovative interpretation regarding the characters of biblical women, and places
them in modern-day scenes. The photographs lead the viewer to consider wisdom,
bravery and feminine valor in the biblical text, and in Jewish and general culture.
The staged photograph resounds with Schreiber’s critical voice, encouraging
a new reading of stories underplayed by the Bible. Schreiber illuminates
shadowy corners; she focuses on stories where the text is concise and
modest, presenting bravery as an insignificant matter. Schreiber refocuses and
protests through her photographs: remember Devorah the prophetess, who
led the nation to victory? remember Esther? remember Sarah? Rahab? Yael?
The exhibition includes a large reproduction of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam.
At a quick glance, all of the characters seem to be in place: Adam, the angels, the
most well-recognized hand and finger motions in the history of art. Another look
reveals one significant difference: in Schreiber’s version, God is, in fact, a woman!
The effect is both chilling and ridiculous. The jarring image leads one to question
why we were previously so convinced regarding God’s gender. Why were we so
sure that God is masculine? By presenting God as a woman, Schreiber notes
the presence of the shechina – the perceived feminine divine attribute in Jewish
tradition. She creates a new connection to the Creation narrative, indicating the
balance between feminine and masculine elements in our world: the sons of Adam
and the daughters of Eve.
Then we are faced with another provocation: “600,000” – a video exhibit
utilizing 3-D animation techniques, presenting the Exodus story from an entirely
unexpected angle. A film shot from a bird’s eye view depicts the slow movement
of people going through a wadi, screened in a loop. Schreiber’s shrewd decision
to depict from this angle neutralizes gender distinctions, since from above we all
look alike. Here, too, watching the hypnotizing flow of tiny figures poses a firm
feministic statement, and Schreiber’s dialogue with the Biblical text continues:
“And the Children of Israel went from Rameses to Succot, six hundred thousand
men on foot, apart from the children. And mixed multitudes ascended with them,
and sheep and cattle, they were laden with livestock” (Exodus 12:37-38). Why does
the text state that 600,000 men left Egypt, whereas in fact, when we include the
women and children, the nation numbered over 2.5 million?
A floating colorful, flowery garment, perhaps a carpet, perhaps a curtain – “Gan
Eden Mikedem”. The piece is poetic, aesthetic. What is it? A celebration of pure
beauty from antiquity? The artist invites us to dive into the experience of aesthetic
enthusiasm. Flowers are known to be an ancient symbol of femininity, abundance,
growth and happiness. Can one relax and take it easy now? … not at all! These
are silk flowers, they aren’t real. They are resplendent decoration. We are not in
the Garden of Eden, in spite of God’s feminine face.
“Beyond Rubies”. Ruth Schreiber
Opening: Saturday , April 9th, 20:30
Curator: Lena Zaidel
Ruth Schreiber’s exhibition “Beyond Rubies” investigates the courage and autonomy of women figures in the Bible and traditional Jewish texts.
Schreiber has created a youth, holding a book of quotations from the sources, entitled “And do not forsake your mother’s teachings” (Proverbs 1:8). In a series of photos Schreiber shines a light on some of the women featured including Sarah, Esther, Tamar and Yael, Rizpah, Zipporah, Rahab and Ruth.
A large rendition of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” hangs on the wall, but in Schreiber’s depiction, God is a woman, focusing on His female side as the Shechina.
Schreiber’s show includes an animation video, “600,000”, about the exodus from Egypt, and also a huge curtain of silk flowers, 3mx4m, named “Gan Eden Mikedem”.
- Exhibition Date