Tobi Kahn: Sacred Spaces for the 21st Century

GILES/The Museum of Biblical Art  2009


The book published to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City is comprised of short essays exploring themes of sacredness in abstract images and objects created by the artist Tobi Kahn for ritual and meditative space.

The exhibition, which was at MOBIA until January 2010, included Kahn’s reinterpretation of traditional ritual objects plus an ensemble of abstract art panels lining the glass walls of a congregation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which “exalt the ritual function of the space,” according to Ena Heller, an expert on art and religion. Other contributors include a professor of religion, a museum curator, and Daniel Sperber, professor of Talmud at Bar- Ilan whose essay, “Sanctity in Space,” addresses Kahn’s obsession with sanctity in space and gives a concise explanation of Kahn’s success in creating an “ethereality of the dimension of holiness,” always seeking “for representation of the spiritual in the material.” Kahn’s memorial for victims of the 1995 Oklahoma bombing and the meditative space created for the Health Care Chaplaincy in New York City are also illustrative of this quest. Nessa Rapoport’s poems (“songs”) introduce and accompany a section of exquisite photographs of works in the exhibition. This book gives the exhibition the permanence it deserves.

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