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Elijah Chair

Elijah Chair was made for Shiff's Times Square Seder as part of a Multi-Media Art Activist Passover event. This video sculpture was aquired by the Jewish Museum NY for their permanent collection and proved to be Shiff's break through piece. Shiff's art practice literally went from the street to the Museum. 


Elijah Chair: Art, Ritual, and Social Action

The Jewish Museum, New York, NY

February 6 - April 11, 2004

Curator: Andrew Ingall

Repairing the World: Contemporary Ritual Art

The Jewish Museum, New York, NY

November 4, 2007 - March 16, 2008

Curator: Susan Braunstein

     In this project,  Shiff  utilizes the Mandala - which is the sacred meditation device in Eastern religions, particularly Tibetan Buddhism -- for a Jewish artistic practice. These JAMS can be viewed as a device or "spiritual technology" to access the divine through meditating on animated ritual objects.  The traditional Mandala form in Tibetan Buddhism is usually a 4 quadrant one but my hybrid Jewish Mandalas utilize 6 points - thus referencing the Magen David form in addition to their use of Judaica.  However, there are also specifically Jewish sources of inspiration for my project- specifically the art of the Mizrach, an aesthetic device used to direct prayer and contemplation.

     Meanwhile, this project crosses these traditional spiritual pursuits with more secular ecstatic pursuits— i.e. contemporary rave culture and psychedelic culture. These JAMS can be appreciated on the level of art and aesthetic experience as purely beautiful forms that transform Jewish ritual objects into animated abstractions.

JAM 5 which is posted at the top of this page is the last in the series.  The series is for sale in a limited edition.


Artist: Melissa Shiff

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