Eruvin by Ben Schachter

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June 1, 2014
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five townsjohannesburgsydney

Ben Schachter is a professor in the Visual Arts Department Saint Vincent College. In these pieces, he depicts eruvin.

All work is acrylic and thread on paper

Five Towns 22 x 30″, 2010
Johannesburg Eruvin 22 x 30″  2012
Sydney Eruv 30 x 22″ 2012

Artist’s statement:

These paintings illustrate a group of eruv maps. An eruv is a symbolic Jewish enclosure that unifies a neighborhood on the Sabbath, the day of rest. On that day Orthodox Jews and those who follow the laws of Shabbat do not carry things from their homes out into the public. Practically speaking this affects young parents most because they can not carry their children to services or bring food over to a friend’s home for lunch. Unless there is an eruv. An eruv is a legal fiction that “blends” multiple private spaces into one communal home for one day out of the week. The rules to build an eruv are tremendously complex and usually involve stretching a wire between things in the urban environment to construct a symbolic fence. Of course the wire does not actually keep anyone else from coming and going. It is a visual reminder of the blended home. Larger eruvin (the plural of eruv) are sponsored by the community. Like the ones seen here, the wire is up all the time, but is only meaningful on the Sabbath. The paintings are made with acrylic on paper. The silhouette is stitched with blue thread to emulate the wire that is often used to complete the eruv. This Talmudic law is followed all over the world, one ancient principle expressed by local communities.

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1 Comment

  1. They look like deconstructed schematics for children’s toys. The Sydney eruv looks like -if I turned it counter-clockwise- a front view of stuffed animal komodo dragon. Or they could be landing maps.

    It makes the communities abstract. Trying to backfill the skyscrapers and communities into basically a line drawing. A footprint.

    Posted by
    Dan
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