Eyebeam Presents “The Great Seal” by Tali Keren
Eyebeam is proud to present the U.S premiere of Tali Keren’s The Great Seal, an immersive installation that investigates the intersection between art, propaganda, religion, and politics. The piece invites viewers to step onto a fictitious stage at the annual Washington D.C. Summit of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and assume the role of keynote speaker. CUFI mobilizes millions of American Evangelical conservatives who view Jewish rule over the land of Israel/Palestine a precondition for Christ’s second coming and the imminent Battle of Armageddon.
By using a presidential teleprompter and a karaoke ‘sing-along’ machine, participants are invited to perform speeches compiled from those delivered at past CUFI summits.
Throughout the interactive performance, the visitors will stand on a rug emblazoned with the design for the original Great Seal of the United States, first proposed by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in 1776, and subsequently rejected by Congress. Franklin and Jefferson’s Great Seal reimagines the biblical story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt with America framed as the ‘New Zion’.The myths linking the United States and Israel as two settler colonial projects are thus embodied in the seal.
The work was originally shot and completed in 2015 and 2016, before the Trump presidency began, yet it sheds a light on a subset of those that ushered in his victory. The project’s debut, on the heels of the critical U.S. midterm elections, adds another layer of urgency to an already extremely polarized political landscape. “As we slide into an ever more partisan world, where the actions of our leaders affect millions across the globe, it is important to engage with works like The Great Seal, which helps shed light on some of the most dynamic and emotional issues of our time,” says Eyebeam’s Director of Programs, Sally Szwed. Adding: “Eyebeam has always been a home for conversations on deeply challenging issues. With The Great Seal, we continue our efforts to always be a platform for artists who are adeptly interrogating society.”
Special events at Eyebeam
The Great Seal will open on Thursday, November 8 at 6pm with an activation of the work, followed by a conversation led by experts in the areas of political activism, performance, religion, media, and neuroscience. Their voices and expertise will provide a valuable perspective on the ideological, psychological, historical and political mechanisms interwoven in this project. Panelists include research scientist Suzanne Dikker, media theorist Kareem Estefan, religious studies scholar Suzanne Schneider, and artist and performer Reverend Billy Talen. The conversation will be moderated by artist Tali Keren.
On Sunday, November 11 at 4pm, artist Tali Keren and research analyst Kinjal Dave will engage visitors in a roundtable conversation on the role of technology, media manipulation, twitter, and the teleprompter in the formation of political and racial ideologies.
Full participant bios below.
The Great Seal will be on view at Eyebeam, free and open to the public on the following schedule:
Thursday, November 8, 6-9pm (Opening event)
Friday, November 9, 12-6pm
Saturday, November 10, 12-6pm
Sunday, November 11, 12-6pm (event at 4pm)
Wednesday, November 14, 12-8pm
Private appointments available on Tuesday, November 13 between 12-5pm by request.
Tali Keren is a media artist (b. 1982, Jerusalem living and working in Brooklyn, NY). Her performances video and installations focus on the formation of ideology, violence, and political identity. Keren’s recent solo exhibitions include ‘Heat Signature’ at Ludlow 38, MINI Goethe Institute, New York, and the ‘The Great Seal’ at the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv. She exhibited and performed her work in venues such as; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Museum of Moving Image, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Socrates Sculpture Park, New York; Times Square, New York; the Jewish Museum, New York; Museums Quartier, Vienna; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen;The Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon; Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art. Keren received her B.F.A. from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem (2009) and earned an MFA from Columbia University, New York (2016).
Reverend Billy Talen
William Talen and Savitri D created the secular Church of Stop Shopping in the months after 9/11. Their 35-voice Stop Shopping Choir is known for its “spiritual trespassings”: These musical rituals are staged in the lobbies of the financiers of climate chaos like Chase and Citibank; in laboratories of Monsanto for their cancer causing pesticides; and cultural spaces with sponsorships from Big Oil (British Museum, Lincoln Center, Tate Modern). The arrest-risking performances are designed to break the habits of consumerized Americans, especially the passive watching of the Earth’s crisis.
In the last year the choir has been singing in sanctuary churches, where New Yorkers are hiding from Trump’s police. Their next stage show is a run of five Sundays at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, starting November 25th.
Suzanne Dikker, PhD is a research scientist at New York University. Her work merges cognitive neuroscience, education, and performance art in an effort to understand the brain basis of human social interaction: Together with collaborators from both the arts and the sciences, she uses portable EEG in a series of public neuroscience experiments / interactive brain installations that investigate the role of brainwave synchrony in successful communication and (inter)group dynamics. Her art/science work has been exhibited at various museums/venues, including the Garage Museum for Contemporary Art (Moscow), EYE Film Institute (Amsterdam), Pioneer Works (Brooklyn) and the Benaki Museum (Athens). Suzanne further curates the Annual Watermill Art & Science: Insights into Consciousness Workshop and serves on the advisory board of Public Sentiment, an organization aimed at integrating underrepresented citizens into policymaking.
Suzanne Schneider is Deputy Director and Core Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. An interdisciplinary scholar working in the fields of history, religious studies, and political theory, Suzanne’s research interests relate to Jewish and Islamic modernism, religious movements in the modern Middle East, the history of modern Palestine/Israel, secularism, and political identity. She is the author of Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine and has written for The Washington Post, The Forward, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Revealer: A Review of Religion and Media. She is currently working on a book about religious violence in the modern age.
Kareem Estefan is a writer, editor, and PhD student in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, where he researches artists and filmmakers in Palestine/Israel who engage histories of displacement and dispossession through strategies of fabulation, speculation, and opacity. His writing on contemporary art and cultural activism has been published in art magazines and journals including Art in America, BOMB, Frieze, Ibraaz, and The New Inquiry, among others. He is co-editor, with Carin Kuoni and Laura Raicovich, of Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production (OR Books, 2017), an anthology of essays by artists, curators, activists, and scholars on boycott campaigns, transnational solidarity, and (self-)censorship in the arts. Previously, he was associate editor of Creative Time Reports, an online magazine that featured artists’ perspectives on international social and political issues.
Kinjal Dave is a Research Analyst at Data & Society on the Media Manipulation team. She currently researches how the white mainstream press has historically amplified or undermined white supremacists and their ideologies. She holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Villanova University.
Eyebeam provides both space and support for a community of diverse, impact-driven artists. The residency program brings artists’ work to life and into the world by providing access to advanced tools and resources and launching dynamic public events, assisted by an engaged community of alum.
The Eyebeam’s programs are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cultural Development Fund of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Atlantic Foundation along with the generosity of Eyebeam’s family of individual givers.
For any media-related inquiries, please contact: Maddie Pinney [email protected].