From our friends at KQED, today we bring you a review of Work in Progress: Approaching Utopia at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Author Sarah Hotchkiss notes, “…the exhibition makes an irrefutable argument for the importance of art as a tool of social change. The artists’ models, socially engaged artwork, and narrative experiments approach utopia, question it, and allow viewers to process the larger issues behind collective attempts at creating paradise.” This article was originally published on October 15, 2013.
In a compelling show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, three artists present work that addresses conceptions of and attempts towards utopia. In very different visual languages, Elisheva Biernoff, Oded Hirsch, and Ohad Meromi stage interactive tableaux, captivating videos, and participatory sculptures, putting collective effort at the forefront of the exhibition. The idea of utopia is in constant flux, Work in Progress posits, and it is only through combined visions and repeated attempts at understanding that any true progress can be made.
The exhibition cleverly responds to both ‘progress’ (advancement toward a better state) and ‘in progress’ (in the course of being carried out). Several of the pieces are literally in progress, whether they are documentation of an ongoing film project or an interactive magnetic board open to visitor additions and rearrangements. Most importantly, the artists’ work doesn’t feel forced into what could be a heavy-handed or onerous theme. Biernoff, Hirsch, and Meromi all bring the viewer into their highly personal subject matter through the appealing aesthetics of their work and their ability to make small, individualized experiences take on broader implications.