If you’re in Chicago between now and January 18, 2009, catch the exhibition at Spertus Museum—Twisted Into Recognition: Clichés of Jews and Others. Here’s the official hype:
Twisted Into Recognition: Clichés of Jews and Others explores the ways images and objects that depict stereotypes are seen, perceived, and classified. Stereotypes and clichés are an integral part of our perception, shaping our image of ourselves and others as well as our sense of belonging to a distinct group or nation apart from others. Through their simplification, these characterizations may help us to overcome our fear of the unknown, but at the same time, serve as a breeding ground for racist ideologies.
Twisted Into Recognition is a multimedia exhibition that juxtaposes historical objects, items from material culture, and contemporary art and film to demonstrate the persistence of stereotypes (whether intentional or supposed) and how they have been subverted for commentary today. This exhibition was organized by the Jewish Museum Berlin and the Jewish Museum Vienna.
Twisted Into Recognition is a cornucopia of cultural clichés, presented in a contemporary and provocative style. The exhibition features a series of mini-galleries covering a range of stereotypes.
On the 10th floor of the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, the show opens with 49 Jewish Noses by Dennis Kardon, a collection of nasal sculptures hanging upon the gallery wall. Accompanying Kardon’s work are other sculptures by Rudolf Beling, Gerd Bauer and Rudi Sopper.
The next installation spotlights Black Venus and Aunt Jemima, with a filmed performance of Josephine Baker, a related painting by Hassan Musa and an Aunt Jemima syrup dispenser from the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.
From Jesus Christ to Michael Jackson to Harakiri School Girls, the exhibition covers a lot of cultural ground in a variety of media. There’s even a reference to Bill Bernbach’s iconic “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s real Jewish Rye” advertising campaign. If you can’t experience it all live, try ordering the catalog from Spertus Shop. It’s a $40 hardcover and the text is in German, but the high-quality plates display everything just fine.