lechem oni / prusa


performance installation

Approximately 400 bars of soap, hand made by the artist during gallery performance, each containing one broken piece of matzah shmura, also made by the artist in a matzoh factory. Dimensions variable. Goatsmilk soap, glycerine soap, matzah shmura.

Lechem oniprusa (bread of humility/affliction, upon which we answer (onim) many things (Pesachim 36a)) – (smallest unit of value) invokes iconic Holocaust imagery with the intent of criticizing the misappropriation of the Holocaust as a means to bias mainstream opinion. The artist makes the soap bars in the gallery, encased in each bar is a piece of hand-made matzah shmura baked by the artist in the traditional manner in a matzah factory. The soap bars are then assembled in piles, recalling the piles of Jewish belongings and Jewish bodies discovered at death camps, with the soap itself an allusion to the Nazi practice of making soap from the fat of Jewish bodies.

Exhibition history:

2013 ‘Nu Age Hustle’ Momenta Arts, Brooklyn. Katie Cercone, curator. Group exhibition with Vaginal Cream Davis, Sanford Biggers, Jacolby Satterwhite, Saya Woolfalk.

2008 Neutral Ground Gallery/ Queer City Cinema. Gary Varro, Michael Toppings, curators





SFAQ Pick: “Nu Age Hustle”

can we wash our exile away?
if we scrub real hard like Lady Macbeth
can we wash away the looking over our shoulders
the always-have-your-passport-in-hand
the ready to run
diaspora desperation
land desperation
THE land — ha-aretz —
can we scrub ha-aretz clean?
squeeky clean
like nobody ever lived there

do you remember the motto?
“a land without people
for a people without land”
and they bought it
and i bought it
and we grew up thinking it was true
knowing it was not
scrubbing scrubbing
exile bubbles

do you remember what the experts say
about childhood trauma?
“symbolic reenactment”
it’s not that you do the thing that was done to you
oh no
we don’t do that
it’s that you make ’em feel what you felt when it happened
and you don’t know it
you don’t know it!
and you can’t help it
and you can’t stop it
and so you don’t know why
you feel so unclean

and so you wash
and do the Lady Macbeth thing
and it doesn’t come clean

all i ever get is
soap scum at my feet

Response-poem to ‘lechem oni/prusa’ from Dr. Mira Amiras, Professor Emerita Middle East Studies Program San Jose State University.