Palo Alto

May 19th - 29th, 2013

Melissa Shiff was a finalist - her work JAMS was selected to be in this international group show along with artists Ken Goldman and Jacqueline Nicolls.

Read about the competition here.

Palo Alto

Panel: Sunday April 28th, 11:45 am - 1:00 pm

Professor Melissa Shiff and Louis Kaplan co-present on a panel entitled "Ararat's Augmented World: Screen Plays for a Mobile Homeland." at HASTAC 2013. The theme of the conference is "The Storm of Progress: New Horizons, New Narratives, New Codes." York University Professors Shelley Hornstein (Architectural History and Visual Culture) and Janine Marchessault (Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media, and Globalization) are the other participants.

Link to session abstract

Palo Alto

Professors Melissa Shiff, Louis Kaplan, and John Craig Freeman have been invited to conduct augmented reality walking tours on the Mapping Ararat site. The first tour will be for a digital art class taught by Professor Stephanie Rothenberg and the second tour will be for an art history class taught by Professor Elizabeth Otto. The event is sponsored by both the Humanities Institute and the Department of Visual Studies of the University at Buffalo.

Palo Alto

Professors Melissa Shiff and Louis Kaplan have been invited to present "Mapping Ararat: Augmented Reality and the Imagining of a Jewish Homeland" as part of the workshop "Mining Imagination: Ethnographic Approaches Beyond Knowledge Production" to be held at the Mahindra Humanites Center, Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The workshop is on April 6th and it is organized by Dr. Michaela Schäuble (Post-Doctoral Fellow, Visual Anthropology). Other participants include Professors Lisa Cartwright, Andrew Irving, Kathryn Ramey and Paul Stoller.

Mapping Ararat will be the featured exhibition at the American Comparative Literature Association annual meeting to be held at the University of Toronto April 4th to April 7th 2013. There are expected to be 2,000 participants at this international conference. The exhibition will be held in the Jackman Humanities Building Room 100B, 170 St. George Street. Professors Melissa Shiff and Louis Kaplan also will be presenting a plenary session on the project in Jackman Humanities Building Room 100A on Friday, April 5th beginning at 2:20 pm.

Link to event page

Palo Alto

Project Director and Lead Artist Melissa Shiff, in conversation with the noted journalist Renee Ghert-Zand at the Feast of Jewish Learning - Palo Alto, January 26, 2013. The theme selected for the evening is Dreams and Schemes. Perfect for a discussion of Mordecai Noah and the Mapping Ararat project.

December 3, 2012
11:00am - 12:30pm, Oshawa, Ontario

November 4, 2012 8:30-9:30pm
Hamilton Ontario

Link to speakers page on event website

Lecture: Mapping Ararat: Research/Creation on the Border of the Historical and the Imaginary
October 5, 2012 - Toronto Reference Library

Link to speakers page on event website

Place: Jackman Humanities Building 170 St. George Street, Room 318 - Map
Date: April 16th, 2012
Time: 4-6pm

  1. Adam Rovner "Mordecai Noah's Ararat In light of Jewish Territorialism"
  2. Melissa Shiff, Louis Kaplan, John Craig Freeman "Mapping Ararat: Envisioning a Virtual Jewish Homeland"

Click here to visit "Where To?" exhibition page

Curator Udi Edelman

Participating artists to include:
Yael Bartana, Michael Blum, Ariella Azoulay, Ronen Eidelman, Malkit Shoshan, Salamanca
April 28th - July 15th

Last leg of the five stop tour is The Corine Maman Ashdod Museum, December 30, 2011 July 18, 2012

Click here for press release.

Melissa Shiff's work to be included in a book containing over 50 established and emerging artists whose art and design says something new about Jewish art in the 21st century.

Click here to visit the website,

Video Interview with Melissa Shiff by The Forward's Arts Editor Dan Friedman with the focus on JAMS- Jewish Animated Mandala Series

Click here to view the video.

Melissa Shiff's JAMS will be exhibited in group show with Aya Ben Ron (Israel), Mircea Cantor (France/Romania), Vandana Jain (USA), Gary James Joynes/Clinker (Canada), Jennifer Zackin (USA)

September 22 to December 4, 2011

Visit the event page on

Melissa Shiff has been appointed to a three year term in the Department of Art at the University of Toronto. Her title is Assistant Professor. During her tenure, her research will be focused on the SSHRC Insight Development Grant "Mapping Ararat."

has awarded Melissa Shiff a major grant for the research and creation of her collaborative project: Mapping Ararat: An Imaginary Jewish Homelands Project.

This project will utilize the cutting edge technology of augmented reality to imagine an alternative history for Grand Island New York creating an on site walking tour for this Jewish homeland originally proposed by Major Mordecai Noah in 1825.

Shiff's collaborators are new media artist, Professor John Craig Freeman of Emerson College in Boston and photography and new media historian, Professor Louis Kaplan of University of Toronto.

Stay tuned as the project progresses...

Digital Demonstration of Mapping Ararat (work in progress)

November 9, 2011

Lecture for 31st Annual Holocaust Education Week

Sponsored by Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, Toronto
and Don Heights Unitarian Congregation.

Thursday November 3rd 2011
7:00 pm
Don Heights Unitarian Congregation 18 Wynford Dr., Ste 102, Toronto


"The Medium is the Matzo", is a one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime mashup of art, music, technology, and matzo that brings the ancient Passover holiday to life for audiences of every persuasion and any age.

  • Indie Star Josh "Socalled" Dolgin to Perform Rarely Heard "Socalled Seder"
  • Manischewitz donates over 5000 pieces of matzo for 3-D installation

A two day symposium devoted to the cross-disciplinary investigation of the multiple meanings of European Jewry before, during and after the fin de siècle.

Melissa Shiff's lecture, "ARK: Restaging the Jewish Museum in Prague", will be held on September 20th at 7:30pm.

Link to Program

Melissa Shiff has been awarded a significant grant to mount The Medium is the Matzo in Montreal, Passover 2011, Venue, TBA

More details to follow...

Link to JCF Grant Recipient page

A multi-media Passover Happening with artist Melissa Shiff and Professors Doris Bergen, Ritu Birla, Harriet Friedmann & Michelle Murphy.

Times Square Seder, The Medium is the Matzo and Cine-Seder Plate are all art-activist Passover Happenings created by artist Melissa Shiff. For this event, Shiff will install her award winning video sculpture Cine-Seder Plate and invite local scholars to respond to the questions raised in her video projection. With this project, as in all of her reinvented Passover projects, Shiff asks us to think about Passover in light of contemporary problems that plague us today.

PDF invitation

Excerpt, Page 172: " On occasion, a bride and groom conceptualize their wedding as an original work of art of their own making, in which mediation defines the structure of the celebration as forthrightly as religious protocol. Such was the case when media installation artist Melissa Shiff and her husband, art historian Louis Kaplan, planned their wedding, which took place in Toronto on 12 October 2003. Shiff describes the ceremony as a reinvented ritual, using "postmodern artistic strategies" that negotiate "between contemporary performance art and the customs of the traditional Jewish wedding."

Link to the book at NYU Press website

Her work appears in the chapter: Postmodern Strategies for Making Art, other artists included in this chapter are Grand Fury, Cindy Sherman, Guillermo Gomez-Peña

Published by McGraw Hill

Link to Amazon

Presentation of ARK on "The Language of Sculpture" panel.

The ISC's 22nd International Sculpture Conference will explore and consider the potential of sculpture in the 21st century - to provide an opportunity to both celebrate its vitality and diversity, its capacity to challenge, and to examine its current position, function and production.

Conference website

Shiff's Postmodern Jewish Wedding is exhibited in this group show.

Through contemporary plastic art, the exhibition portrays the changes that take place in wedding ceremonies in the last decades

Exhibition website

Shiff's JAMS (Jewish Animated Mandalas) will be on display.

Exerpt from David Sperber's essay written for Judaica Twist:
Since the late 1960's, and especially in the 1980's, Judaica objects have held a significant place in the work of Jewish artists in Israel and abroad: Judaica – not yiddishkeit. In centers of contemporary art, these objects furnished the source of a radical, critical motif which was woven into the artistic discourse.

Read full length essay

Exhibition website

"Arks Salvage/JAMS Preserve"

This video presentation addresses Shiff's recent projects that have remediated parts of major Jewish Museum collections and where Shiff was able to create compelling visual spectacles in the process.

Melissa Shiff's Postmodern Jewish Wedding in Group Show.

This group exhibition features video and photographic works by three artists: Lucy Levene (UK), Devora Neumark (Montreal) and Melissa Shiff (Toronto). These artists reclaim and rewrite aspects surrounding Jewish marriage rituals, by questioning certain patriarchal traditions of courting, wedding and divorce.

More about the exhibition

Melissa Shiff has recently been appointed Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto for a three year term. The appointment of Adjunct Professor is given only to distinguished individuals who have special expertise needed to complement academic programs.

Panel- Collection as Spectacle: New Display Strategies
Chair: Alla Efimova,
Tentative list of participants: Norman Kleeblatt, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Reesa Greenberg and Melissa Shiff video presentation of ARK and JAMS

Melissa Shiff will create a CINE-Seder Plate, rethinking this form in a cinematic style. This will be the first Invitational exhibition in the new museum designed by Daniel Libeskind. It will also celebrate the Museum's 25th anniversary.

Melissa Shiff has been invited to give the biannual endowed Samuel and Bettie Roberts Lecture in Jewish Art in the spring semester of 2009. More details to follow.

Fairfield University

REVIEW OF ARK by Bruce Jenkins, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Curator: The Museum Journal

"The spectral character of Shiff's projections coupled with footage and photographs of people and places that survive only as images, capture perfectly the tragic aspect of this historical chronicle."

"Shiff joins a handful of media artists, includling Bill Viola and Mary Lucier, Beryl Korot and Chantal Akerman, who have placed this contemporary form of the moving image arts in the service of probing the past - creating time machines that transport us into historic sites, sacred spaces, and arenas that challenge the limits of sacrifice and faith."

Click here to read full review

By Heather Diack

Excerpt from essay:

"Shiff is an artist who is decidedly activist, in all senses of the word. Assuming that activism also implies questions of "access" and "affect," Shiff looks for the transformative possibilities of religion and culture by using a keen sense of philosophical subtlety and opening up spaces for emergent discourse through interrogation and constant critique. Ultimately, art and faith must be regarded as issues of contingency and exchange in order to stay vibrant, relevant, and powerful."

Full length article available by clicking here

Screening of Postmodern Jewish Wedding

Melissa Shiff will screen her film Postmodern Jewish Wedding and lecture about the creation of her real life performance art wedding at:
Objects of Affection: The Jewish Wedding in Media and Material Culture
(Schedule TBA)
As the most elaborately celebrated of Jewish life cycle events, weddings provide rich opportunities to consider the intersection of media and Jewish religious life.  Scholars, artists, curators discuss the visual and material culture of weddings including photography, videography, music and their portrayal on stage and in film.

Link to colloquium announcement at Center for Religion and Media NYU
Link to Center for Media, Culture and History, NYU

Melissa Shiff Lectures at San Jose State University

Melissa Shiff has been invited to present her work at the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery.

Click here to read more about the conference

Off the Wall: Artists at Work is a two-week open studio project featuring 12 artists working and performing in the galleries. Representing a new generation with strong Jewish social networks or a familiarity with Jewish rituals and symbols, artists will create a work-in-progress and exhibit other work in various media including fashion, music, performance art, video and new technologies. Events include concerts, salons, a runway show, and a Purim party.

Levi Okunov’s Fashion Show with video projections by Melissa Shiff and a live mix by diwon. Other musical guests include Smadar and Y-Love.

For full length description of this upcoming show please click here

The Design Exchange, 234 Bay Street, Toronto:
ARK Screening Saturday March 29th, 10:30-11:00am and 1:00-1:30pm

Panel Discussion Saturday March 29th, 4-5pm
Presenters: Melissa Shiff (THE ARCHIVE IN THE DELUGE), Cathy Gordon (ON MY KNEES: A Public Divorce Ceremony), Liam Johnstone (TBA)

Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Road, Toronto:
ARK Screening Sunday March 30th, 10:00am - 5:00pm

Link to digifest website

Melissa Shiff's Elijah Chair in Group Show with Richard Meier

This exhibition highlights a group of contemporary ceremonial artwork from The Jewish Museum’s collection. These works, innovative in design and message, explore a wide range of contemporary issues facing both modern Jewish life and broader society.

More about the exhibition

Melissa Shiff has been invited to lecture about her work at Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington. She will also give a lecture at Temple Beth Hatfiloh.

For more information about the lecture please click here

Susan Chevlowe, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Jewish Art and Visual Culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary, writes on the work of Melissa Shiff and Hannah Iverson in Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women Studies and Gender Issues.

Click here to read excerpt

Melissa Shiff has been invited to present her work at Limmud UK at the University of Warwick in Coventry England.

Click here to read more about the conference

Jewish Museums and Displays: New Directions, Obstacles and Opportunities

Reesa Greenberg lectures on ARK in her paper entitled:
Displaying Judaica: Secularizing the Sacred

Panel Chair: James E. Young

Excerpt from Reesa Greenberg's Abstract:
"For the most part, museum displays of Judaica utilize the “treasure” mode... I argue that recent artist projects (eg. Larry Abramson’s Searching for the Ideal City, 2006, at the Magnes Museum, San Francisco and Melissa Shiff’s Ark, 2006, at the Jewish Museum in Prague) shift the paradigm and, in so doing, reanimate both the artifacts and the museum. Rather than emphasize a lost or aestheticized past, these temporary artist projects, working with and against the habitual forms of displaying Judaica, offer new ways for viewers to understand and experience Judaica."

Engaging Contemporary Art in Jewish Studies: A Scholar's Rountable with Three Contemporary Toronto Artists.

Organized by Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Professor Jeffrey Shandler . Melissa Shiff will present her work and two scholars will also present on Shiff's projects --Shelley Hornstein and Chava Weissler

Chair:  Jeffrey Shandler

Artists:  Melissa Shiff, Rafael Goldchain, and Meyer Kirshenblatt (with Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett)

Panelists: Jonathan Boyarin, John Efron, Shelley Hornstein, Olga Litvak, Chava Weissler, and Carol Zemel

Click here to read roundtable abstract

Melissa Shiff Shortlisted for Fort-York and Original Lake Ontario Shoreline Public Art Competition for the City of Toronto.

Other Shortlisted Artist include:

Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak
Daniel Laskarin and Robert Youds
Maha Mustafa
Tony Stallard

Description of commission:
Currently, Toronto Culture is seeking to commission an artwork that delineates the original Lake Ontario shoreline and related features, which can be traced along the north side of Fort York Boulevard. It is expected that the artwork will illuminate the Fort’s original relationship with the lake, and act as a landmark for a new entrance to the city’s most important historic site.

Click here to read more about Fort York

Nuit Blanche

Medium: Multimedia Installation
Venue: Grange Park

When the iconoclastic Moses descends the mountain holding The Ten Commandments to find his people dancing around the golden calf, the party’s over. In contrast to Judaism, Hindus worship the cow as holy. This tension between what religious cultures hold sacred is at the heart of Melissa Shiff’s ICONOCLASH. Shiff projects iconic movie scenes onto Toronto’s temple of art (the AGO façade) and pairs this with a multicultural music mix to create an interactive dance party. Superimposing the audience into these scenes via video technology, ICONOCLASH focuses reflection on the question of visual representation and the function of the icon in different cultures.

Click here to read more about Nuit Blanche

Melissa On Crush Pillows

Crush Pillows
Oakland University Art Gallery- Rochester Michigan
March 10- April 15th
Opening reception Saturday March 10th 6-8pm
TerGloba Website

Artists' Panel featuring Hasan Elahi, Melissa Shiff, Alexander C. Mouton, Dmitrey Stakovosky, John Craig Freeman, and Valerie Mendoza on Sunday March 11th 2-4pm

Curated by Vagner M. Whitehead

Other participating artists: Dread Scott, Susan E. Evans, Vagner M. Whitehead, and others.

Melissa Shiff will exhibit her "Crush Oppression Pillow Project" as part of this group show.

Press release:
"The positive promise of globalization, of all good things shared and accessed by all, has yet to be fully realized - we still live with disease, terrorism, starvation, and inequality and few people control the majority of goods. Articulating an array of personal perspectives, the artists in this exhibition come from a diverse and expansive range of nationalities and ethnicities exploring different facets of globalization in their artistic practice..."


October 21st--November 20
Command J: Jewish Laws Digital Arts­ Group exhibition as part of the ReJewvenation conference.

Melissa Shiff will be exhibiting her video installation Gender Cuts/The Jew Under The Knife. Other participating artists are Helene Aylon (New York), Simon Glass (Toronto), and Jeffrey Shaw (Sydney)

Opening Reception: October 23rd 3- 7pm at XPACE in Kensington Market, 303 Augusta Ave. Toronto.

Thanks to the Toronto Arts Council for supporting this project.

October 28-31, 2005
ReJewvenation: The Futures of Jewish Culture, University of Toronto conference.

October 29th, 2005
As part of Rejewvenation, Melissa Shiff will be presenting her work at the roundtable discussion "The Futures of Jewish Ritual." The panel will be moderated by renowned scholar Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (NYU) Melissa Shiff's presentation is entitled: Kicking the Habit: Making Rituals for Happening People. The panel will be held at the Wolfond Centre for Jewish Life, University of Toronto, 36 Harbord Street, 3:30- 5pm

October 30, 2005
There will be a Visual Arts panel at the ReJewvenation conference in conjunction with the exhibition to be held at The Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College Street, 3rd Floor featuring presentations by Norman Kleeblatt, Carol Zemel, Jessica Wyman and Louis Kaplan, 3-5 pm. Professor Jessica Wyman (OCAD) will be presenting "Cutting Gender, Splicing Ritual: Melissa Shiff's Gender Cuts/The Jew Under the Knife"

November 13, 2005
Artist Talks - Toronto Artists Simon Glass ("The Ten Commandments/Prohibited Weapons") and Melissa Shiff ("Gender Cuts/The Jew Under the Knife") discuss their works at XPACE, 303 Augusta, Kensington Market, 3 pm.

Crush Oppression invitation
The Medium is the Matzo
April 8 - May 2, 2005
Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life, at NYU:

exhibition featuring: passover projections, elijah lounge, miriam bar, » matzo ball activism

May 6-8, 2004 | The Center for Religion and Media, at NYU: