Written on the Body: Re-Embodying Judaism in Contemporary Jewish Feminist Art

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This essay explores contemporary Jewish feminist artists’ engagement with the tensions between sexuality and sanctity of the female body in Jewish spaces and religious practices. The attempt to reclaim subjecthood within these spaces and practices rescues the female body from abjection. I have selected Jewish spaces and practices that are especially embodied (such as the mikveh or tefillin) in order to track common threads of a dialogue, although the artists are quite diverse in location, medium, outlook, and ideology. Ritual objects can be functional works of art or appropriated for different feminist agendas, but also spaces in which to work through more holistic concepts of the body. Finally, I will consider what is “religious” about embodied art and ask whether the erotic can also be “religious.” These art works, I contend, push the envelope of acceptability and visibility of the female body in Jewish spaces. However, the effectivity of such social and art activism should be measured against the possibility of change within Halakhah and the degree of acceptability of what is considered sacrilegious or goes against the principles of Judaism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-296
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Modern Jewish Studies
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • Art
  • Jewish identities
  • feminism
  • religion
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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