Bar Mitzvah'd at Forty

02 September 2021 Ariel Efraim Ashbel and friends

Berlin-based Israeli artist Ariel Efraim Ashbel regularly interweaves and confronts seemingly independent historical, political, theoretical, and pop cultural references in his work. Since 2014, Ashbel has been working on a cycle of solo performances in which he appropriates rituals and social gathering on Jewish holidays and examines the traditions of these occasions for their current relevance, revealing references and opening them up for personal access.

The bar mitzvah - the Jewish "rite of passage" or confirmation - is a significant moment in the life of a Jewish person. It is the moment when young people become part of the community. Since he did not perform the bar mitzvah in his youth, Ariel Efraim Ashbel is making up for this perhaps most important Jewish ceremony today - on his 40th birthday in the summer of 2022.

As part of a multi-part residency, Ashbel will use residencies in Frankfurt as an opportunity to engage in new ways with history and his location as a Jewish artist living in Germany. Within a year, the Frankfurt community rabbi Soussan will prepare him for religious maturity. In addition, Ashbel will engage in conversations with a wide variety of Frankfurt residents about aspects of Jewish life, in search of Jewish traces in the cityscape, in everyday life, and in the collections of Frankfurt museums. In doing so, he combines historical research with performative strategies.

Ashbel's research within METAhub is his most personal project to date and in many ways challenges his otherwise anti-biographical artistic approach. In a diary-like multimedia form, Ashbel documents his engagement on an ongoing basis, inviting us and anyone interested to share in his encounters, thoughts, and learning process. In doing so, he reflects on forms of archiving Jewish heritage through the lens of his Jewish and artistic practice. Together with friends, colleagues, and mentors, Ashbel will initiate events over the course of a year that address the tensions between traditions and performance, between memory and speculation, and between spiritual engagement and intersectional solidarity.