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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Andi LaVine Arnovitz

Bak’a,
Israel

Andi LaVine Arnovitz was born in 1959 in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated with a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis. For many years, Andi worked in advertising as an art director, creating print campaigns and television commercials. She attributes the conceptual ideas behind many of her pieces to this work experience. Andi considers herself a printmaker, a paper-manipulator, a bookmaker and an assemblage artist. Her primary love is working with paper, printing on it, etching with it, drawing, sewing, tearing and repairing. Her pieces often reflect her love of pattern, surface, and thread she has had since she was child wandering through her father’s fabric store in Kansas City. In 1999 Andi and her family moved to Jerusalem, Israel. A two year sabbatical has become a permanent stay and much of her work is informed by the multitudinous differences of living in the Middle East. Of great concern to her are primary issues surrounding the differences between Jews and Arabs, between religious and non-religious, between Jewish law and contemporary society, between men and women, between young and old. Over and over these politics and tensions are explored, examined and dissected in her works. Andi has had numerous solo shows in Jerusalem, and recently one at Brandeis University, and at Yeshiva University Museum in NYC. Her work has been included in many group shows all over the world: in France, Spain, England, Poland, Canada, Israel, the United States, Lithuania, and Finland.

Feminist Artist Statement

I think that by virtue of the fact that I am a woman, a wife, and a mother, my work is feminine, therefore feminist. How could it be otherwise? Because I am observantly Jewish, I find myself living with a consistent tension between what was, what is, and what could be. My art reflects this ongoing dialogue with what it means to be a Jewish woman, what it means to be a mother of daughters, what it means to be a middle-aged woman. I am continually exploring the politics, myths, and challenges of the woman within Judaism, as well as the cultural and political expectations of what a woman is in the 21st century. I use many art forms that have been traditionally relegated to the realm of women: thread, needle, decoration. I use them to create awareness, protest, dialogue, and disapproval.

<p>“504 Years later”</p>

“504 Years later”

The current religious trend in the Middle east among both religious Muslims and Jews if for women to cover more and more of their bodies. This goes far beyond normal parameters of modesty. I have taken Albrecht Dürer’s diptych masterpiece of Adam and Eve from 1507 and suggested that rather than progressing from a time many would consider to be repressive, we are actually regressing.

“504 Years later”

The current religious trend in the Middle east among both religious Muslims and Jews if for women to cover more and more of their bodies. This goes far beyond normal parameters of modesty. I have taken Albrecht Dürer’s diptych masterpiece of Adam and Eve from 1507 and suggested that rather than progressing from a time many would consider to be repressive, we are actually regressing.

Dress of the Unfaithful Wife

The Dress of the Unfaithful Wife refers to a passage in the Old Testament which elaborates on a procedure performed on a woman whose husband accuses her of adultery. The dress is made of transparent paper, as a reminder of the invisibility of her rights throughout this ordeal. The piece is encased in a glass vitrine, visible from all sides which refers to her lack of privacy, to the uncovering of her hair, to her humiliation and denial of modesty. Embedded in the paper are hair, dirt, and Hebrew letters, all a reference to this archaic and degrading ritual.

Vest of Prayers

This vest of prayers is made of thousands of pages of prayer books which have been rolled and tied. It is the Jewish response to a suicide vest, made of the ultimate Jewish tools: paper, words, and string. The vest also alludes to the Jewish concept that prayer is more powerful when said by communal voices - one scroll does not have the same visual impact as thousands do.

ACID!

These prints address the terrifying incidence of acid violence which occurs in the world today. I realized that the very same acid which I use to create is used to disfigure and destroy. I spent months doing portraits of people- some real ( as in Sergei Filin, the director of the Bolshoi Ballet ) and some symbolic ( as the number of women experiencing this violence in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan is staggering.) Then, in seconds I destroyed my work by “spilling” acid on it. This series is meant to provoke and create awareness of this horrible form of violence.

“The Commerce of Infertility”

This installation addresses the ethical, moral and financial issues associated with egg and sperm banks, and with freezing embryos. It begs many questions: our ability to keep track- to control the process- the factory- and dehumanizing aspects. The installation suggests each baby is different and precious, - how do we decide, how do we select, who gets left out, who is able to procure one of these… there are vast implications for this technology which has the potential to create great happiness but also utter turmoil.

“Shut Her Up”

This print is one from a series of three. Each print deals with different aspects of the current gender crisis in Israel. This print deals with the series of current events from 2011-2012 in which the public became aware that images of women had disappeared from public advertising. Women were being forced to sit in the back of public busses where ultra orthodox men were present. They were unable to deliver eulogies for loved ones in Orthodox controlled cemeteries, unable to give lectures in conferences in which ultra orthodox men were present, the list goes on. Here I have appropriated the “apple” from the tree of knowledge to represent a systematic “silencing” of women.

Coat of the Agunot

The Coat of the Agunot is a symbolic coat made of thousands of tiny, torn pieces of Jewish marriage contracts. An Agunah, according to Jewish law, is a woman whose husband refuses to give her a “get,” a legal document agreeing to divorce. Without it, the woman’s status is forever “frozen”: she can neither remarry, nor have a partner, and any future children would be considered illegitimate. Each piece of her marriage certificate has been sewn - a symbolic act which refers to every word which is binding her to her state. The sleeves and hem have been sewn shut to suggest that she is forever trapped: hemmed in by her marriage certificate, waiting for another piece of paper to free her.

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Barak #10
Bak’a,
Israel

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