Joan Snyder, Our Foremothers (Unsere Urmütter)
Exhibition preview

The female side of god

Visual representations of a suppressed tradition / 10/20/2020 - 02/14/2021

The exhibition explores the "female side of God" in the three monotheistic religions. From archeological figurines and medieval Hebrew Bible illustrations to Renaissance images of the Madonna, it presents a slice of cultural history that culminates in interpretations by contemporary artists.

In the polytheistic world of the Ancient East, there was a widespread belief in the existence of female deities. Such deities also played a role in the development of biblical monotheism, but were increasingly removed from the ritual practices of ancient Judaism. The idea of a female side of God replaced that of a divine female partner that is documented by many archeological finds and written sources.

Visual art and religious-historical artifacts

Aschera-Figur mit fast vollständig erhaltener Bemalung, Judäa, Eisenzeit, 750–620 v. u. Z.
Ashera figure with well-preserved ornamental painting, Judea, Iron Age, 750–620 BCE, fired clay, remains of white, reddish-brown, and yellow paint, from the collection of Dr. David and Jemima Jeselsohn, Zurich

The point of departure for the exhibition The Female Side of God is archeological artifacts from the Ancient Near East depicting female deities. Various passages in the Hebrew Bible also attribute special powers to female figures. The entity that is considered most directly divine is the Shechinah, which is described in rabbinic Judaism as the "dwelling of God on Earth" and in Jewish mysticism as the creative aspect of God. It is at the heart of the exhibition, which examines the rediscovery of the largely unknown tradition of female conceptions of God as reflected in contemporary artworks. In addition to contemporary and visual artworks, the exhibition presents religious artifacts and writings, ceremonial objects, and textiles. All have a cultural-historical significance and a current relevance.

Symposium and catalog

The Frankfurt exhibition The Female Side of God is curated by Dr. Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek and Dr. Michaela Feuerstein-Prasser in collaboration with Dr. Eva Atlan. It is based on the eponymous presentation held at the Jewish Museum Hohenems in 2017. In preparation for the exhibition, a symposium will be held under the same name at the Goethe University of Frankfurt on January 19–21, 2020, in order to present the latest interdisciplinary research conducted within the framework of the LOEWE research focus “Religious Positioning: Modalities and Constellations in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Contexts.” The exhibition is set to open in October 2020 and will be accompanied by a German-English guide.

Acknowledgements

The exhibition has been made possible by the generous support of the Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and the Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain.

A cooperation with the Jewish Museum Hohenems.

Event location:
Jewish Museum Frankfurt

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Bertha-Pappenheim-Platz 1, 60311 Frankfurt am Main

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