The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, which is only a few blocks from where we live, was the talk of Art Basel. The museum wanted to explore and discuss Jews with tattoos.
In order to accomplish this, The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, showcased the photography work of Zachary Balber. As you entered the exhibit area, the following statement was on display.
“This photographic series is created through the lens of Zachary Balber, a noted, young, Florida Jewish photographer whose works are in the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art , the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Art FIU and numerous private collections through the United States.
“The photos present images of men, all Jewish themselves, who whether disenfranchised, marginalized, tormented by hurt or simply for vanity, sought to change their outward appearance.
”Jewish law has prohibited bodily modifications, like tattoos and piercings for centuries. The ban has even weightier implications since the holocaust, when Jews were tattooed against their will in Auschwitz. Still, an ever increasing number of Jews are being tattooed as “inking” becomes more mainstream in both American and Israeli culture. Some young Jews see tattooing as a tool to connect to their past or to express their identities.
”Balber engaged the subjects of the photo series in addressing their own Jewish identities by including his personal Bar Mitzvah Kippah in all of the photos. Some of the photos in the series depict members of Balber’s family who influenced his search for his Jewish identity. Of note, Balber himself has no tattoos.
”We present Tamin to address this relevant topic and to encourage discussion of both the rules and the reality.”