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The ark sails through the Jewish Quarter

"A rich tapestry of themes comes together in a monumental video sculpture installed in the narrow lane next to the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague's old Jewish Quarter. Starting Wednesday, Sept. 13, a video montage will be shown from dusk till midnight across the prow of Canadian artist Melissa Shiff\'s Ark. She created the site-specific sculpture especially for the Jewish Museum of Prague as the keynote of its Year of Jewish Culture festival, which celebrates the centennial of the institution's founding."

"In all its 100-year history, the current project marks the first time that the Jewish Museum has really presented its activities to the wider local public, says Michaela Hájková, curator of visual arts at the museum. It is also the first time the Jewish Museum has installed a contemporary artwork in public space."

by Mimi Fronczak Rogers

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The ark lightens up after Dark: the Canadian artist Melissa Shiff’s work in the area of the Pinkas Synagogue

“The symbolic ark celebrating the centennial of the Jewish Museum was created by the Canadian artist Melissa Shiff.  In projects exhibited around the world (“The medium is the Matzo,” “Elijah’s Chair,” “Gender Cuts/The Jew under the Knife”…), she has devoted herself to the renewal of Jewish traditions.”  “After dark, the ark’s sides turn into a three-dimensional projection screen which serves as the backdrop for a 30 minute video narrative.  It explores the dramatic fate of the Jewish museum and the local Jewish community in the last century as well as the story of the preservation of Jewish cultural monuments and Jews’ spiritual heritage”

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The ark sails through the Jewish Quarter

From today onwards, a video sculpture in the shape of a large ship is on view at the corner of Široká and Valenstinská Streets. The art work was created by the Canadian artist Melissa Shiff for the celebration of the centennial of the Jewish Museum in Prague.

Images narrating the dramatic events of the 20th Century serve as the backdrop for the story of the museum which, like an ark, preserves the legacy of Jewish culture in the Czech Lands documenting both the history and the life of the community today.

The Ark Speaks to People: During the day it is an enormous four and half meter tall ship.  At night it becomes a three-dimensional projection screen where the great story of the Jews is played out.

“In her installation, the artist adopts a postmodern approach and thus creates a multilayered narrative which is relevant to us today regardless of our cultural distinctiveness and experience,” says the exhibition’s curator Michaela Hajková…"

"Leo Pavlat, the museum’s director, is also enthusiastic about her work and artistic approach.  “Already in our first meeting, where the ark project was being discussed, it was clear that her type of presentation situated as it was in the public space would be effective in communicating its concept to the broader public.

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Reality or Illusion?

This evening a colossal video sculpture in the shape of a mammoth ship will illuminate the space of the former Malá Pinkasová Street, a stone throw from the Museum of Decorative Arts.  The Canadian-Jewish multimedia artist Melissa Shiff began working on this art installation last year.  It celebrates the centennial of the Jewish Museum in Prague.

Images from the history of the museum will be projected on to the sides of the ark.  Prague’s Jewish Museum is the most visited museum in the Czech Republic and one of the largest of its kind in the world.  Recently, Melissa Shiff launched an online store “Jewish Art Projects/Products/Politics” where creatively remodeled ritual objects are for sale.

The Ark as a Symbol of History: Jewish culture in the Czech Lands projected on to the sail of a symbolic ark

In the narrow street close to the Pinkas Synagogue, a large ship created by the Canadian artist Melissa Shiff has emerged.  A video with images commemorating Jewish culture in the Czech Lands will be projected on to the ark.  The installation, which is part of the project “A Year with Jewish Culture – the Jewish Museum in Prague 100 Years,” is on display until the end of the year.

The artist designed the ark for the unused space in Pinkasová Street which is one of the last remnants of the former Prague Jewish ghetto.  The ark not only symbolizes the biblical flood, but also reminds us that in spite of the tragic events of the last century Jewish culture has survived.  During the best light conditions, the video installation should be visible from the metro station Staroměstská and from the corner of Kaprová and Valentinská Streets.

The Ark has cast anchor in the streets of Prague

As if an enormous ship got stuck between the buildings.  This is the effect of the Canadian artist Melissa Shiff’s extraordinary video sculpture which she created for the occasion of the centennial of the Jewish Museum.  The four and a half meter tall object in the form of a very large ship is transformed into a projection screen after dark.  A narrative telling the story of the Jewish Museum and the Jewish community will be projected on to it.  “The ark is placed in a very significant space, in the street at the Pinkas Synagogue and next to the Jewish Cemetery,” the curator of Melissa Shiff’s project Michaela Hajková points out.  “It is a place where the world of the living connects with the world of the dead,” notes the director of the Jewish Museum Leo Pavlat.

Passersby could see the video for the first time last night around seven o’clock.  “The half hour video is showing here every day between 7 pm and midnight until January 14,” says Hajková inviting us to an untraditional viewing.