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MELISSA SHIFF

ARK

"The work is nothing short of brilliant" Barbara Kirshenblatt-Giblett, scholar of Performance and Jewish Studies 

 

ARK is an outdoor site-specific video installation that was the keynote project for the Jewish Museum in Prague's centennial year celebration.​

September 14, 2006 - January 14, 2007

 

ARK was built to travel. At each new port Shiff will create a site specific video that tackles the most urgent subject of our time: Climate Change. 
 

      ARK is a 4.5-meter high structure made out of acrylic and aluminum that serves as a 3D projection screen. For its first installation Shiff created a 30-minute video that narrates the history of the museum and the Prague Jewish community during the last turbulent century. It reflects upon the museum as an ark (as a sanctuary for Jewish cultural and religious treasures) and an archive (that preserves the legacy of Jewish cultural memory) as well as on the function of the museum in general. ARK confronts man-made catastrophes such as the Holocaust and natural disasters such the floods in Prague (2002) as the powers of the formless that threaten the museological imperative to collect, order, and structure the archive.

     Shiff explains the symbolism of ARK as follows: "The museum functions as Noah's Ark did in the Old Testament – to salvage and save what might otherwise be destroyed by natural disaster and catastrophe. Therefore ARK seemed to be the perfect metaphor for a project about the museum and particularly about this museum that was able to salvage thousands and thousands of objects during the Holocaust."

  

      ARK was built to travel. It is assembled with nuts and bolts and as you can see in the build images below it is portable. At each new site it finds harbor Shiff will create a new video to speak about one of the most pressing and urgent subjects of our time: Climate change. If ARK is installed by the sea the video imagary will consist of the rising sea levels and rising temperatiures that threaten sea creatures. If ARK is installed in the city Shiff will create imagery about the Anthropocene. In other words, ARK is the perfect metaphor  to speak about globael warming since it is the oldest vessel that saved humanity and nature from the flood. ​

Exhibition

ARK/ARCHA

Jewish Museum, Prague, CZ

September 14, 2006 - January 14, 2007

Project for the 100th anniversary of the museum

Credits

Artist: Melissa Shiff
Curator: Michaela Hajkova
Consultant: Louis Kaplan
Architect: Barry Isenor, Emily Hogg, Michael Bartosik
Engineers: Blackwell Bowick Partnership
After Effects: Melissa Shiff, Anna Malkin
Photographs: Melissa Shiff, Isaac Applebaum, Kathryn Gaitens, Robert Portel, Dana Cabanova

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