In the article, writer Leah Koontz talks about her personal interest in the show. “As a Jew who was raised by a lesbian, I often find myself troubled by the Torah’s position on on gayness (which is not necessarily supportive).”
The thing that is amusing about this dining room environment is its subtlety/ambiguity. With a name like Gay, Jewish or Both, Friedman and Margulis had room for quiet references. Immediately upon entering the installation, I noticed the Jewish celebrity prints. Although Natalie Portman is no Mayim Bialik or Barbara Streisand, she did help clue me in, as a person with acute Jew-dar, that this might be a Jewish reference. These works in particular reminded me of Deborah Kass’ work “Four Barbaras,” from her 1992 series “Jewish Jackies”. The work was shown in the exhibition Too Jewish? at the Jewish Museum in New York, curated by Norman Kleeblatt. Kass used Streisand as an example of a rare idol, bringing a positive image to a group of people associated with only negative things.
I enjoyed the repetitive prints seen throughout the Friedman/Margulis installation, and I felt that they really tied the room together. The attitude of the installation also reminded me of Neil Goldberg’s work, particularly his sculpture seen in Too Jewish? called “Workout Tallis”. Like Goldberg’s piece, the Friedman/Margulis piece combines Jewish and homosexual cultural implications to draw out an identity-based discussion.
According to Koontz, “The magical thing about this installation is that it inspires people to share very personal things, which is an important step toward real conversation.” She goes on to express concern that “outsiders” might not be able to “relate to the show’s issues in the same way” the gay or Jewish community might.
But in the end she gives the installation great praise because “this show had allowed me to grow by forcing me to think.”
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