Best Of The Web
“One morose and rainy Sunday afternoon in late November, the kind that presages the final days of a New York autumn, a motley group of intellectuals and connoisseurs of Yiddish gathered on the Lower East Side. The Russian-American conceptual artist Yevgeniy Fiks was on hand to deliver an artist talk and personalized tour of his charming exhibition “Yiddish Cosmos” (through Dec. 16), a playful historical jaunt through the history of the Jewish aspects of the Soviet space program. The exhibition was arranged on the second floor of the Stanton Street Shul, one of the last functioning Orthodox synagogues in the neighborhood. Beneath stylish prints of the Soviet cosmonaut Boris Volynov—who was the first Jew in space, and would have been one of the very first men in space if his historical flight along with Yuri Gagarin on the first Voskhod rocket mission had not been bumped because of his ethnicity—were futurist Yiddish slogans. A striking half portrait cleaved together the faces of Gagarin and Sholem Aleichem. The exhibition demanded an answer to the question of whether the Jewish utopia was to be found in Manhattan, Israel, the Soviet Union, or somewhere in the farthest reaches of the Milky Way.
Fiks is in his mid-40s and of medium height and is possessed of an angelic face. He was dressed in a minimalist black ensemble and possessed of a calm and grounded-seeming demeanor. Listening to Fiks softly discuss the relationship between Soviet Yiddish literary magazines, 1920s Lower East Side anarchist-Yiddishists, and the legacy of the Soviet cosmonauts, one could very easily begin to believe in a future of Yiddish-speaking space colonies.
For close to a decade I have been following the progression of Fiks’ career as he has built up a thematically and conceptually coherent oeuvre predicated on a rigorous melding of immigrant concerns, LGBT themes, and a probing post-Soviet search for a usable future. It is a playful artistic endeavor built on an archeological search for a future refashioned from the tarnished fragments of a broken utopian past. It is also represents a thoughtful and liberal response to the Soviet past by a gay Jew: two categories of people that the Soviet Union had a complex relationship with.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"China’s Hydrogen economy Is coming: The world’s electric-vehicle king is seeking leadership in fuel cells, too. Investors are probably right to be excited."
"It would be the height of naivete to believe the book is closed. Democrats on Capitol Hill are not just going to take the attorney general's conclusions and move on to new things."
"Netanyahu has brazenly allied himself with Trump’s Administration and his family (including the cryptic peace negotiator, Jared Kushner, whose family he has known for years), as well as with the Republican Party and Republican funders..."
"Us is stranger than Get Out, with deeper philosophical undercurrents flowing through it. The rabbit that greets you at the movie’s start is an invitation. Will you follow, like Alice in her Wonderland?"
"Democrats and Republicans seem to have irreconcilable views on economics, but on one point they agree: Small business is better than big."
"Sanctuary, a digital astrology start-up backed by $1.5 million in venture capital, made the considered decision to launch its service on Wednesday — the dawn of the new astrological year, when Pisces gives way to Aries in the astral cycle."
"It is a Vessel for the depths of architectural cynicism, of form without ideology and without substance: an architectural practice that puts the commodifiable image above all else, including the social good..."
"Apartment Therapy posted a photo to Instagram of a bookshelf with the spines facing inward, and the dramatic response — dozens of users denouncing the trend as anti-intellectual, even comparing it to book-burning ..."
"Perhaps it is time to add parenting to the growing list of “replacement religions” competing for our attention and currency these days, a list that already includes workism and politics."
"Only a fraction of the world’s yeast species have been discovered. The ones still out there could revolutionize health care, green energy, and beer."
"We’ve recently fixated on expunging “fake news” but the medical world also has its charlatans. The snake-oil salespeople, masquerading as health professionals, are naturopaths."
"...should we continue to teach thinkers like Kant, Voltaire and Hume without mention of the harmful prejudices they helped legitimize?"