Press Release The Word of God: Helène Aylon, The Liberation of G-d and The Unmentionable

A woman with her head covered in white fabric stares toward the camera, red characters projected over her face.

Helène Aylon, Self Portrait: The Unmentionable, 2010

For immediate release

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Helène Aylon (born 1931) is a New York based eco-feminist artist. Aylon’s career spans over four decades and she has primarily addressed biological, ecological and theological issues from a feminist perspective. Aylon refers to these decade-long subjects encompassing the 70s, 80s, and 90s respectively as Body – Earth – G-d. Her work in The Word of God series features commentary on the Hebrew Bible. The Word of God: Helène Aylon’s The Liberation of G-d and The Unmentionable, continues Aylon’s ideas of how G-d has been confined by human translation.

Aylon’s art over the years has included a unique mixture of performance art, installation art, process-based works and protest art. The G-D Project, an ongoing work, began in the 1990s with the goal of examining the Torah and philosophical teachings with a feminist eye. With the turn of the century, the work has become more autobiographical about her own experiences as an Orthodox Jew.

The Liberation of G-D portion of the exhibition features multiple volumes of the Five Books of Moses, which form the Torah. In each book Aylon has highlighted passages which offend her feminist and humanist outlook. Aylon highlighted words that refer to vengeance, deception, cruelty and misogyny. Also included in the exhibition is a video of Aylon in the actual act of highlighting each passage by hand. The video shows only her hand, and allows one to hear the marker across the page and the crinkling of the parchment as she highlights words in pink. The Unmentionable is a series of self-portrait prints of Aylon with the before mentioned text passages projected onto her face and the holiest name for G-d (Yod-Hei-Vav- Hei (YHVH)) written across her forehead. Observant Jews do not write or pronounce this name for God because it is considered too sacred to be used for common activities. Also included in the exhibition is a site specific work, My Eternal Light.

The exhibition is curated by Tresa Varner, curator of education and interpretation, and Eric C. Shiner, acting director and The Milton Fine curator of art. The Word of God: Helène Aylon, The Liberation of G-d and The Unmentionable is on view through June 26, 2011.

This exhibition is the second in an ongoing series titled The Word of God, which examine major religious texts through the lens of contemporary art.

Special thanks to Peter Samis, curator at SFMoMA, for directing the permanent installation of The Digital Liberation of G-d at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco; The Swig Foundation for commissioning The Digital Liberation of G-d for the entrance to the Swig Beit Midrash at the JCC/SF; Richard Wheeler for videotaping The Digital Liberation of G-d; The NY Jewish Museum for the loan of The Liberation of G-d; Norman Kleeblat, curator of The Liberation of G-d at the NY Jewish Museum in 1996; and Fred Wasserman, director of The Liberation of G-d installation re-shown in 2000 at the Jewish Museum’s Core and Continuity year- long exhibition. The artist gratefully acknowledges The Dobkin Family Foundation, The Pollock Krasner Foundation, The New York Foundation for the Arts and The Brandeis Institute for Research on Jewish Women for support and sponsorship of various parts of The G-d Project.

The Warhol has, in its sixteen year history, presented difficult or controversial imagery and art in order to spark community dialogue. The dialogues and visitor experiences from such encounters with art and images are powerful and potentially community changing.

Exhibition Related Public Programming

As part of The Word of God exhibition series, The Warhol is presenting The Word of God: Voices, an ongoing series of public dialogues and gallery talks by various scholars, community activists, artists, and religious leaders. These programs provide context for the artist’s work and spark dialogue about the issues raised in each exhibition.

Opening Celebration – The Word of God: Helène Aylon, The Liberation of G-d and The Unmentionable
Sunday, May 8, 2011
2 pm Helène Aylon Talk

3 pm Reception – complimentary coffee, tea and lite bites; cash wine bar Free with Museum admission

Gallery Talk: Women, Torah Law, and our Post Modern Response to Divine Grace with Reverend Cynthia Bronson Sweigert, Episcopal Church of the Redeemer and Wanda Guthrie, Thomas Merton Center
May 22, 2011

2 pm
Free with Museum admission

Gallery Talk with Special Guest

June 5, 2011
2 pm
Free with Museum admission

Gallery Talk with Melissa Hiller, Director of The American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
June 26, 2011
2 pm

Free with Museum admission

The Word of God Series

The Word of God: Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an

February 26 – May 1, 2011

The Word of God: Helène Aylon, The Liberation of G-d and The Unmentionable
May 8 – June 26, 2011

The Word of God: Chitra Ganesh

July 9 – September 4, 2011

The Word of God: Max Gimblett’s Buddhanature

September 17 – November 27, 2011

The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance

December 3, 2011 – February 12, 2012

Also opening on May 8

My Mommy is Beautiful an installation by Yoko Ono
Started in 2004, My Mommy is Beautiful is one of Yoko Ono’s ongoing art projects. This installation of My Mommy is Beautiful has been installed to bring awareness to the continuing relief effort for the earthquake disaster in Japan. Visitors are asked to bring a photograph of their mother or to write about their mother on a piece of paper and add that recollection to the piece in a gesture toward love and peace. The exhibition is sponsored by the Japan- America Society of Pennsylvania.
On view through June 5, 2011

The Warhol receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and The Heinz Endowments. Further support is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

The Andy Warhol Museum

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. The Warhol is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Established in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1.4 million people a year through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.