Barbara Bloom "As it were … So to speak"

The Jewish Museum

poster for Barbara Bloom "As it were … So to speak"

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Barbara Bloom has devoted her career to questioning the ways we perceive and value objects. With a light touch and subtle wit, she divines the meanings encoded in the things with which we surround ourselves. In an installation drawn from The Jewish Museum's collection of more than 25,000 works of ceremonial, decorative, and fine art, she sets a selection of objects in unconventional contexts and offers visitors new ways to view the museum and its holdings.

Inspired in part by Talmudic discourse, in which discussions and commentaries take place across time and space, Bloom uses the paneled rooms of the former Warburg Mansion as both museum and home, and filled with imagined historical guests. Visitors are invited to eavesdrop on their conversations, carried out through the juxtaposition of found texts, Bloom's writings, and artworks displayed in furniture-like cases. For example, a gaming table containing a Dreyfus Affair game board and ancient Roman dice imagines a game between Nefertiti, Emile Zola, Jesus, and Amy Winehouse. Composers George Gershwin and Arnold Schoenberg are envisioned seated at a piano whose strings are composed of Torah pointers, discussing a game of tennis. The subjects are wide-ranging and reflect ideas that have long interested the artist: inferring a whole from surviving remnants, navigating the intricacies of bestowing gifts, representing the unspeakable.

The title—As it were … So to speak—suggests that what is heard is not exactly what it appears to be. In the artist's vision, the objects at the core of the installation have transcended their traditional functions and spark new dialogues.

Barbara Bloom was born in Los Angeles in 1951 and lives in New York. She studied with John Baldessari at the California Institute of the Arts and is often associated with the postmodern “Pictures Generation” that includes Cindy Sherman, Louise Lawler, Richard Prince and Barbara Kruger. The Reign of Narcissism (1989), perhaps Bloom’s most celebrated piece, recreates a Neoclassical period room in an imaginary museum dedicated to the artist’s self-image. She is also widely known for her 1994 permanent installation of Thonet bentwood chairs at the Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst (MAK) in Vienna. An extensive survey of her work, The Collections of Barbara Bloom, was shown in 2008 at the International Center for Photography, New York and at Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin.

[Image: Installation view of "As it were … So to Speak." Photo: David Heald/The Jewish Museum, © 2013]



from March 15, 2013 to August 04, 2013


Barbara Bloom

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