Jewish Museum in Prague


Avi Biran

Dialogue with Time

Liturgical objects from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague and contemporary works of the Israeli designer Avi Biran
Jewish Museum in Prague, Spanish Synagogue, Vezenska 1, Prague 1
17 May - 26 October 2001, 9am - 6pm, except Saturdays and Jewish holidays
Curated by Mgr. Jaroslav Kuntos

Instalation of Exhibition: Pavem Brach

    The production of Jewish liturgical objects seldom finds itself at the forefront of interest in the Czech Republic where it is generally regarded as a closed chapter. In view of tragic historical events there were no new liturgical objects produced after the Second World War; the few surviving Jewish communities made use of liturgical objects that in many cases were hundreds of years old. The exhibition of objects by Avi Biran, complemented by their historical counterparts from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague, demonstrates that such objects are made in the present and that these are no mere reproductions of earlier models. As in the past, the inspiration is still drawn from traditional literary and artistic sources. When developing these sources, Avi Biran is not constrained by the original subject-matter; on the contrary, he likes to explore unexpected connections whose basic qualities can be appreciated even by the layman. In certain cases, however his artefacts are characterized by different levels of meaning, an understanding of which requires a specialist knowledge of Judaism. A common feature of all Avi Biranís work is his inventiveness and humour, which are used as a way of getting the viewer to think about his work and to try and find out what the original source of inspiration was and how it has been adapted. Although his artefacts may surprise viewers who are familiar with their historical counterparts, on closer inspection one can see that they are all based on deep historical traditions and meet all the requirements for use as liturgical objects. Historical counterparts from the collections of the Jewish Museum in Prague have been selected with a view to their similarity in shape and function, regardless of their age and their artistic and historical significance. The majority of these objects are being displayed for the first time in this exhibition.
Jaroslav Kuntoö, Curator

Avi Biran

   Avi Biran was born in 1964 in Haifa, Israel and graduated in 1990 from Jerusalemís Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Department of Goldwork and Silverwork. Since 2000 he has been doing postgraduate studies in industrial design at the Academy. He specializes in the production of Jewish liturgical objects in which he combines a feeling for tradition with a contemporary artistic awareness and professional craftsmanship. In what is a relatively short period of time he has already gained considerable recognition for his unconventional artefacts. He works mainly with silver and common metals but also uses wood and other organic materials, plastic and ceramics. He lives and works in Jerusalem.


A selection of group shows (out of 33):
1990 - Bezalel '90 - New Directions. Laurie and Arving Borowsky Gallery, Philadelphia, U.S.A
1991 - "OR 91" - Israeli designers: Objects of Light, The Jerusalem House of Quality, Jerusalem, Israel.
1993 - America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship winners at the University Art Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel.
1994 - Israeli Contemporary Crafts. Craft Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan, and Kyoto, Japan.
1995 - The Hanukkah Menorah, Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley California, U.S.A.
1996 - New Perspectives on Timeless Traditions, The Rabbi Irving and Marly Koslowe Judaica Gallery, Mamroneck NY, U.S.A.
1997 - Sonagli di Purim, S.U. Nahon Italian Jewish Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.
1998 - Masters of Ceremony: The Next Generation, William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, Atlanta, U.S.A.
1999 - Ewiger Inhalt in Neuer Form, Judisches Museum Wien, Austria.
2000 - Continuity and Change: 92 Years of Judaica at Bezalel, Seoul Arts Centre, Seoul, Korea.
2000 - The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Exhibition - Bread and Wine. Travelling exhibition.- U.N. Center in Geneva, Switzerland.
2001 - Contemporary Works of Faith '01, Schumacher Gallery, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.


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