The dynamic, sometimes challenging, process of seeking truth, even in mundane matters, is connected at its core to a tradition of dispute. It is a uniquely Jewish path which empowers humankind’s quest to repair the world, and along the way, perhaps even find transcendence.
The theme for the Jerusalem Biennale 2019 is LeShem Shamayim (For Heaven’s Sake!). The phrase ‘for the sake of heaven’ is most famously associated with the text above. It puts an emphasis on the motivation of an act rather than on the act itself, and connects it with, of all things, arguments and disagreements.
This is not surprising considering that the central body of Jewish knowledge is the Talmud, which is not a codified book of laws or philosophical tenets but is essentially a record of rabbinic legal disputes and discussions. In it, minority arguments are given equal prominence alongside the rulings of the majority upon which practical Jewish law is based.
Discourse and discord lie at the heart of Jewish creativity – not necessarily closure and conflict resolution. Therein lies the spirit of Judaism and its engagement with the world in all its complexity.
It is for this diverse dialogue—spoken in the multi-layered language of the visual arts—that the Jerusalem Biennale seeks to create a platform.
The 4th edition of The Jerusalem Biennale will take place in November and December 2019 around the theme of LeShem Shamayim (For Heaven’s Sake!). Participating in this dialogue is not only the prerogative of Jews: In past Biennales, artists – Jewish and non-Jewish - from places as diverse as New Delhi, Budapest, Buenos Aires and Singapore added their creative voices to the discourse.
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