The Residents of Chelm Visit the Mexican War Streets 2010

Ben Schachter
Gestures 14: May 8 – June 20, 2010
resin panels, vinyl, wire, marker, cable

Curated by Katherine Talcott


Curated by Katherine Talcott

Artist Statement

The Residents of Chelm Visit the Mexican War Streets takes its name from the town in Jewish folklore and the neighborhood in which the Mattress Factory is located. The residents of Chelm are fools whose misadventures are humorous, fool-hardy but not always good natured. This installation imagines not so much what might happen if they came to Pittsburgh, but rather the title calls to mind mistranslation. The work is also an expansion of my paintings and drawings of eruv maps. An eruv is a symbolic boundary created around some Jewish neighborhoods. The laws that one must follow to construct an eruv are incredibly complex and ultimately create one continuous line around the neighborhood. The cityscape seen here is also drawn with one continuous, unbroken line of wire and marker.

About the Artist

Ben Schachter brings together Jewish law and contemporary art. Each painting, drawing or installation uses particular traditions and laws as guidelines for the creation of the piece in the same way as conceptual artists created rules to determine the form of their work. He has exhibited at the Jewish Museum, CoCA Seattle, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art and throughout the country. Recently he was artist-in-residence for the American Jewish Museum in Pittsburgh. Last year he delivered a paper entitled, “Talmudic Law as Conceptual Art” at the Conney Conference on Jewish Art in Madison, WI. He is working on a new project involving Jewish attitudes towards materials. He has also been featured by Zeek magazine and reviewed by The New York TimesPittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. Ben is associate Professor of Fine Arts at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.