Abracadabra: Myth, Magic and Monsters
February 17 - June 30, 2014
Judaism has had a mixed relationship with the occult. Scattered throughout the Hebrew scriptures are undeniable incidents of magic—from Joseph’s proclivity for interpreting dreams to Moses’ copper serpent amulet used to heal snake bites, and from Saul’s meeting with the Necromancing Witch of Endor to Isaiah and Ezekiel’s ecstatic visions of the Divine. Yet, both Biblical and Rabbinic sources also contain warnings against the use of such arts, generally forbidding consultation with fortune tellers, soothsayers, or mediums.
In this exhibition, art works by Joshua Abarbanel, Gary Baseman, Ellen Cantor, Steven Wolkoff and Karen Frimkess Wolff explored the complex encounter between Judaism and magical, mystical, and folkloric practices. The title draws inspiration from the popular magical incantation: “Abracadabra,” which likely derives from the Aramaic phrase A’bra K’dabra, meaning “As I speak it, so I create it.”