THE SHOW MUST GO ON
A well-preserved Baroque-style synagogue–built in 1780–is the central feature of Luze, a small town in the Czech Republic. The building, which hosted religious services until the Nazi occupation, was converted to a leather tannery under Soviet rule. After the collapse of the Eastern Bloc, the synagogue became what it remains today: a theater, and museum of regional theater, showcasing sets, costumes, and props from past productions. "Roman" helmets and armor, swords and shields, hang on the walls. A white, angel-winged cello dangles from the ceiling, above a poster advertising a 1966 performance of The Golem.
The relationship between prayer and performance has long been noted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. In his book, The Art of Public Prayer, Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman of Hebrew Union College has noted: "Worship is like drama [and] the principles of successful drama are applicable to public prayer as well."
That is why, of all the uses to which former synagogues have been put in a de-Judaized Europe–warehouses, police stations, firehouses, salons–this theater museum seems, to me, the most appropriate. What was once a stage for ritual has now become a stage for the secular, and a museum for both.
More info on the exhibit here.
Ahron D. Weiner creates photography, advertising decollage, newspaper collage and found object sculpture. Having lived for several years in Prague, he traveled Eastern Europe extensively, documenting both the remnants of a disappearing Jewish heritage, and a modern-day pilgrimage of Jews returning to rural Ukraine. Ahron has used photography as medium to manifest the hallucinogenic effects of Absinthe; and as a means of exploring the artistic value of advertising once its commercial purposes have been exhausted. Ahron’s work has been featured in museums, galleries, books and magazines in the US and Europe. His first solo museum show–for his documentary project titled “Next Year in Uman; A Journey to the Ukraine”–just completed a three-month run at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art. Ahron also serves as Managing Director of Our Man In Havana, a NY-based Advertising and Design firm that provides brand strategy, advertising and design services to clients including The Bronx Zoo, Marriott, NBCUniversal, Rémy Cointreau, The Jewish Museum and W.J. Deutsch & Sons.