WORD UP COMMUNITY BOOKSHOP IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS  

PRESENTS 

  

PHOTOGRAPHS BY YAEL BEN-ZION

CURATED BY GABRIEL DE GUZMAN

 

  

 

Exhibition On View: March 9 - April 9, 2014 

 

Opening Reception and Book Signing with the Artist

Sunday, March 9, 3-5pm

 

Discussion with Yael Ben-Zion and Lise Funderburg, 

author of Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity

Moderated by Gabriel de Guzman

Sunday, March 30, 5:30pm  

 

Following her award winning monograph 5683 miles away (Kehrer, 2010) in which 

Yael Ben-Zion considered the meaning of "normal life" in her homeland of Israel, Ben-Zion now fixes her camera on another personal, yet politically charged theme: intermarriage. Her second monograph with Kehrer, Intermarried, which publishes nationally this spring following a winter unveiling in New York, explores a complex issue with insight and sensitivity. The book includes a foreword by Amy Chua, an essay by Maurice Berger, and an afterword by Yael Ben-Zion.

 

An exhibition of the work will be on view at Word Up Community Bookshop, a multi-language, general-interest community bookshop and arts space in Washington Heights, New York, from March 9 until April 9, 2014. On the opening day, Word Up will present a reception and book signing with Yael Ben-Zion. On Sunday, March 30, the bookshop will host a discussion about the work with Ben-Zion and acclaimed author Lise Funderburg, moderated by Gabriel de Guzman. An interview with Ben-Zion and Funderburg about Intermarried was recently published in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times.

 

Word Up is located at 2113 Amsterdam Avenue, at 165th Street, New York, NY, 10032. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, go here

 

Ben-Zion initiated Intermarried in 2009 by contacting an online parenting group in Washington Heights, the Manhattan neighborhood where she resides with her husband and twin boys. She invited couples that define themselves as "mixed" to participate, leaving the definition of intermarriage open to the interpretation of the respondents. Her own marriage "mixed," she was interested in the many challenges faced by couples that choose to share their lives regardless of their different origins, ethnicities, races or religions.

 

 

"Murphy bed"

"The term "mixed" is strictly an outsider observation. It is a term that "others" would

use to define what their eyes see. ... Most people in "same/same" relationships would be

surprised at how quickly "different" disappears ... " (Cedric)

 

 

The families presented in this book gave Ben-Zion access to their homes to photograph themselves, their children, and the spaces they live in. These images are not straightforward portraiture or documentation, but rather intimate moments and depictions, which allude to the personal experiences of Ben-Zion's subjects within a wider social and political context. Through layered images and revealing texts culled from a questionnaire she asked her subjects to fill out, Ben-Zion constructs a subtle, reality based narrative in which she explores and interprets the complex, multifaceted issues posed by intermarriage.

 

 

"West Side Story"

"Jeff is Catholic and I am Jewish - that difference has defined us mostly because of the impact

our relationship had on our families, who were not supportive of our being together. ... " (Ilana)

 

 

It is Ben-Zion's hope that her new book will create a "platform for thinking and talking about issues that are very personal but have vast social and political implications." In light of the current public discourse surrounding interracial and interfaith marriage, the publication of this book is very timely.

 

The Intermarried exhibition debuted at La Galeria at Boricua College in Washington Heights in January 2014. The Bronx Art Exchange wrote this about the show: "... The lines are blurring all around us with intermarriage. It is doing the great service of shattering stereotypes and is, part in parcel, the very dream that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of and yearned for all Americans to reach ... Ben-Zion's work is powerful because it captures the essence of what is happening in our country today and the very nature of how identities in the future will be dramatically different than anything we know today."

 

 

"Frames"

Beatrice Rippy married Carroll Hollister in New York in 1959, one year after Mildred and

Richard Loving got married in Washington, D.C. to avoid the anti-miscegenation statutes

of their home state, Virginia. New York is one of the nine states in the US that never

enacted anti-miscegenation laws.

 

 

Book Details:

Hardcover

128 pages; 57 color illustrations

ISBN-13: 978-3-86828-418-8

11.9 x 9.4 x 0.7 inches 

$50 U.S.; To order the book, go here

 

Yael Ben-Zion was born in Minneapolis, MN and raised in Israel. She is a graduate of the International Center of Photography's General Studies Program. Prior to taking up photography, Yael had a diverse legal career that included pursuing LL.M. and J.S.D. degrees at the Yale Law School. It was at Yale that she took her first formal photography class. 

Ben-Zion's work has been exhibited in the United States and in Europe, and she is the recipient of various grants and awards, including ICP's Directors' Scholarship Award, the International Photography Awards, and recent grants from NoMAA and the Puffin Foundation. In 2007, her photograph Crash was selected for the cover of American Photography 23. Yael's first monograph, 5683 miles away (Kehrer, 2010), was selected as one of photo-eye's Best Books of 2010 and for the PDN Photo Annual 2011. It was also a nominee for the German Photo Book Award 2011.

 

Lise Funderburg was born in 1959 and educated at Reed College and Columbia University. Her latest book is a memoir and social history called Pig Candy: Taking My Father South, Taking My Father Home (Free Press), which is a contemplation of life, death, and barbecue. Her first book was a collection of oral histories, Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk about Race and Identity, the first to explore the lives of adult children of black-white unions. She has been a regular contributor since 2001 to O, the Oprah Magazine and has written a book about the Tony-winning musical "The Color Purple." Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared widely in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Nation, Salon, Newsday, and other publications.

 

Gabriel de Guzman is Curator of Visual Arts at Wave Hill where he organizes the Sunroom Project Space series for emerging artists and coordinates thematic group exhibitions in Wave Hill's Glyndor Gallery. He was also co-curator of Bronx Calling: The Second AIM Biennial (summer 2013), featuring 73 artists who participated in the Bronx Museum of the Arts' Artist in the Marketplace (AIM) program in 2012-13. He served as guest curator of the group exhibitions Dimensions Variable: Multiracial Identity (spring 2013) at Rush Arts Gallery, New York, and Immigrant Too (fall 2013) at Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance. Before joining Wave Hill's staff in 2010, he was Neubauer Family Foundation Curatorial Assistant at The Jewish Museum, where he served as coordinator for exhibitions that included Houdini: Art and Magic (2010), Warhol's Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered (2008), and Schoenberg, Kandinsky, and the Blue Rider (2003). Mr. de Guzman contributed an essay in the Bronx Calling catalogue, an entry in Masterworks of The Jewish Museum, as well as biographical texts in catalogues for Houdini, Warhol's Jews, Louise Nevelson, and Schoenberg, Kandinsky, and the Blue Rider. He earned an M.A. in art history from 

Hunter College, City University of New York, and a B.A. in art history from the University of Virginia.

 

Media Contact: To receive a copy of the book and artwork and to arrange an interview with Yael Ben-Zion, please contact Andrea Smith, 646-220-5950, andreasmith202@gmail.com.  

 

The exhibition is supported by NoMAA Creative Re-grant Program, made possible by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation.