Censorship Charged

by Paul Bass | November 24, 2009 3:39 PM | | Comments (33)

IartistsMG_1434.JPGOrganizers of an upcoming exhibit considered Richard Kamler’s Koran-Torah collage “offensive” and a “desecration.” Kamler said he was promoting interfaith “dialogue” — and has now been censored for his beliefs.

The organizers rejected Kamler’s submission for an upcoming art exhibit in town. Now a tempest has broken out over free speech and religious expression.

Kamler had submitted a piece for an exhibit set to open Dec. 6 at the John Slade Ely House. (A detail is pictured.) The exhibit features works by over 30 artists inspired by one of New Haven’s architectural gems — the old Orchard Street Shul. Organizers are trying to revive the once thriving synagogue as a community and religious center. This exhibit is part of a broader effort to call attention to the historic building.

Click here to see what’s in the show.

Meanwhile, what’s not in the show — Kamler’s piece entitled “Right Around The Corner / A Common Ground” — has captured the pre-opening attention.

The piece features a collage with cut-out portions of the holiest books of the Muslim and Jewish traditions, the Koran and the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Organizers of the exhibit said they rejected his piece not out of censorship, but because of its potential to offend people.

In response, the National Coalition Against Censorship issued a news release accusing the organizers of “gutting” the exhibition. The coalition has 50 member groups including some leading Jewish organizations.

Read the release here.

“Artwork involving religion often upsets sensibilities no matter how respectful it may be,” NCAC’s Svetlana Mintcheva argued in the release. “Art by its very nature is open to multiple interpretations, and therefore even the most seemingly innocuous material may generate controversy. If the Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Artists Project committee wanted to reduce the possibility of disagreement and ambiguity, perhaps it should have simply organized a show of archival photographs rather than an art exhibition.”

A West River Stroll

In a phone interview from his home in San Francisco, Kamler said a walk around New Haven’s West River neighborhood inspired “Right Around The Corner.”

He came here to scout out the site to answer a call for artists’ contributions for the show. He considered the Orchard Street Shul a beautiful building. Turning the corner on George, across from the Hospital of St. Raphael, he encountered Masjid Al-Islam. He was struck by the proximity of the two institutions, he said. It made him think about the two traditions’ common roots, and the need for more dialogue between them today. That’s been a theme of his work of 30 years, the need for dialogue across communities.

He purchased book versions of the Koran and the Hebrew bible and removed snippets to produce “Right Around The Corner.”

“The intention is to create a common ground,” Kamler said. “There was never an intention to desecrate anybody. Here are two cultures that come from the same source. They both came from Abraham.”

The collage of interwoven fragments serves as a paper tablecloth for a table with a copper bowl in which the Torah and Koran rest.

Echoes Of Danish Cartoons?

“I really feel it is a defamation of both” religions, responded Barry Herman, vice-president of Congregation Beth Israel/The Orchard Street Shul, who was involved in the decision to reject Kamler’s work.

Both traditions object to their holy books being ripped, Herman said. He cited protests by Muslims worldwide over perceived disrespect of the Koran. He also cited Muslim protests over Danish cartoons’ representation of the prophet Muhammad, and the recent decision by Yale University Press not to include those cartoons in a book about them. Read about that here.

“The Torah is supposed to be the word of God. It’s holy. It’s very sacrilegious to do that,” Herman said. He also criticized the work for not including the New Testament.

Organizers of an art exhibit have the right to avoid offending people’s religious sensibilities, Herman argued.

“You hear all these things being done in the name of art. You have to have discretion. You can’t offend people. You’re not going to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater, even if you have free speech. You have to have sensitivities toward cultures and race.”

The anti-censorship coalition had a different view as well of Yale Press’s decision not to include the Danish cartoons in its book. Click here to read about the letter it sent protesting the move.

The artist serving as coordinator of the Orchard Street Shul exhibit, Cynthia Beth Rubin, said the effort represents “a new model” of “community art.” It brings together artists with not just a sponsor, but an organizational “partner,” in this case the Orchard Street Shul.

“He [the artist] did some things that the leadership of the Orchard Street Shul felt could not be used with their name on it,” she observed.

Exhibit organizers release a statement defending the decision to reject Kamler’s piece, arguing it failed to meet exhibit guidelines. Read the statement here.







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Posted by: john | November 24, 2009 6:08 PM

not sure what the verses in question were (might be significant) but i get the impression that this intransigence illustrates exactly why there will never be peace in the middle east.

this strikes me as the appropriation of a text, not its desecration: is excerpting ipso facto anathema to the parties in question?

no verse-quoting, allowed i guess... then again, it's their exhibit and so their prerogative.

Posted by: mikepc | November 24, 2009 8:52 PM

If this guy did something similar involving
Christians, Yale would rename Payne Whitney
Gym in his honor. It's the usual liberal
double standard.

Posted by: Ned | November 25, 2009 8:09 AM

Here's something both of these groups together:
Jews and Muslims unite against homosexuals.

Here's a "bowl" that you guys can put your "holy" books in:Flushaholybook.com.
The bible is currently in the lead, so you might want to start flushing more Korans. Do I smell a fatwa?

Posted by: robn | November 25, 2009 8:53 AM

The art should be judged by its quality of concept and execution, not its content...but it won't be judged at all because its been censored.

Posted by: Moti Sandman | November 25, 2009 9:32 AM

This event was organized by the Orchard Street Shul as a way to remember & respect the history of the congregation and look forward to its revitalization. This work doesn’t do either and being that the event sponsor has every right to not exhibit works that are not in line with their core values.

Posted by: john | November 25, 2009 10:24 AM

@MIKEPC: "It's the usual liberal double standard."

Mike, where's the "double" standard? Has Yale done this? Also, why would it be a double standard if Yale named a gym after someone. It wouldn't make it a double standard if they're themselves consistent, even if you find their views repugnant.

Don't get so caught up in parroting the usual abuse from Sean, Bill, and Rush (vel sim.) that you forget logic and good argumentation in the process... (pregnant pause)

Posted by: JSJ [TypeKey Profile Page] | November 25, 2009 10:35 AM

Were the artists given clear guidelines about what was acceptable and what was not? Were artists vetted for their compatibility with the sensitivities and sensibilities of the sponsors and curators?

That aside, this is a private exhibit and the curators and sponsors have the right to decide what is acceptable within the context of the exhibit. Anyhow, Mr. Kamler will probably receive more publicity from this little brouhaha than he would have from his succesful participation in the project. Perhaps that was his intent all along?

Posted by: ParkStTaxPayer [TypeKey Profile Page] | November 25, 2009 11:45 AM

I think the point of the piece is to show that there is little ideological difference between the major three world religions, and that the similarities should work to bring collaboration and cooperation, rather than drive divisiveness and spark wars.

Some art infuriates, some inspires, some challenges commonly-held beliefs. If it stirs emotions inside it's viewers, the art is effective. It should not be censored for it's message or vehicle of expression.

The reason behind it's not being shown is the very point of the piece, is it not?

Posted by: Jon Grayson | November 25, 2009 11:51 AM

Wow, it's SOOO "artistic"!

Give me a break. My kids can make more imaginative art with a pair of scissors and the Stop and Shop circular. It's really pathetic what passes for "art".

Posted by: robn | November 25, 2009 12:42 PM

MOTI,

Sponsors dictating the editorial content of whats in a magazine, gallery or any other artistic forum is a no no. When that line is crossed you step out of the world of art and into the world of advertisement.

Posted by: FACT CHECK | November 25, 2009 12:51 PM

Sandman-

The event was NOT organized by our Congregation, they used our Synagogue as a platform for New Haven Jewish Heritage. Also, this work would have been very useful to display as it fuses Judaism and the Islamic religion in a positive non-threatening way. A piece of artwork that could lead to better common understanding between our two groups. What a shame that dialogue has been handed another setback - all this leads to are misconceptions of Judaism and Islam.

Posted by: Jeez | November 25, 2009 1:43 PM

It's not being censored for the message or the content but because they all believe that ripping up holy books is wrong.

Posted by: National Coalition Against Censorship | November 25, 2009 3:11 PM

The organizers of the show are quoted as saying that "they rejected [Kamler's] piece not out of censorship, but because of its potential to offend people." This demonstrates their complete ignorance of the meaning of free speech and censorship - censorship is precisely the suppression of speech because somebody does not like the ideas expressed: our commitment to free speech, to the extent that it exists, means we need to need to protect precisely speech that is unpopular, even offensive. Suppressing artwork because it "may offend somebody" would gut any art show, leaving only the blandest of pieces - and even then, there is no guarantee that some person may find grounds for objection.

For more about our take on this issue, please check out our blog post here: http://ncacblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/censorship-guts-new-haven-art-exhibition/

Posted by: abg | November 25, 2009 6:22 PM

Cynthia is right. It's a simple contractual issue. The exhibition guidelines were NOT completely open-ended. Kamler clearly violated the written guidelines and disregarded the interests of the community, which is unacceptable when what you are supposed to be doing is "community art." His paternalistic nonsense about how his "challenging" and "transformative" artwork will help us yokels in New Haven find "common ground" is absurd. He knows nothing abut this community and barely spent any time here at all. From everything I've heard his conduct throughout this process was arrogant, intransigent and self-righteous. If he'd actually spent some time here explaining what he was doing and seriously engaging with the community it's quite possible his piece would have been approved. But he wasn't interested in actually working with the community. Crying censorship is obviously a "career move" for Mr. Kamler. Shame on him. Let's put this behind us and have a real inter-faith dialogue based on the interests and realities of this community.

Posted by: Moti Sandman | November 25, 2009 10:34 PM

Fact Check

As per the quote from the NH Register story the sponsor is "Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Artists Project" this seems to me that there is a direct affiliation with the shul.

Additionally

"Jimmy Jones, a member of the nearby mosque, Masjid Al-Islam, said he views the issue as a contractual decision, not censorship. Jones added that if the point is to generate dialogue, “to cut up a sacred text is a non-starter.”"

This is offensive to both Muslims and Jews so maybe the artist got what he wanted, a Muslim Jewish agreement on something...

Posted by: Nancy Austin | November 26, 2009 1:03 AM

Perhaps censorship is the new scarlet letter? I would have hoped that a National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) press release wouldn’t have been quite so loose with the truth. Or condemn so flippantly.

From the beginning, the Orchard St. Shul Cultural Heritage Artists Project was defined as a site-specific project. For his required site visit, Richard Kamler, a famous artist, popped in from San Francisco last spring for a quick stop at the New Haven site, and never followed through on developing more than a generic piece dealing with Jews and Muslims everywhere or anywhere. All of the other thirty artists from all over the country spent months learning about and engaging with the history of this sole surviving urban synagogue in New Haven, in a state that did not legally grant religious freedom to Jews until 1843. Of course Kamler’s idea of a community dialogue between the Orchard Street Shul and the mosque “right around the corner” is great. But then Richard Kamler would have had to follow through and make contact with these two communities. It would have required face time and engagement so that his proposed conversation, if he could have negotiated it, would have been more than a self-serving spectacle with the respective congregations functioning as something more than props in his performance. Kamler simply did not do the legwork to realize the possibilities he laid out for his piece.

But Kamler has been very strategic in out-sourcing this work to two groups. First, the CHAP committee of mostly women artists, volunteering hundreds of hours to prototype a new model of site-specific, historically-engaged art installations in a hybrid space that is part art world, part public history activism, part conservative religious community memorial. And secondly, now the media is completing his work for him.

I admired the book “Censoring Culture”, by the NCAC’s Svetlana Mintcheva and Robert Atkins, and appreciated the thoughtful questioning there on the gray zones of censorship, on the power of hegemony, and on self-censorship. What does the very air we breathe allow or discourage? Every project will have a boundary, and contemporary art will be hindered if every artist-run group exhibition has to worry now that some man is going to sit at the boundary and do his work by pulling out the censorship card. These are important times with much to be done. In this instance I believe the NCAC itself has become hegemonic and missed the point of this whole experimental exhibition, done on a shoestring by real people who tried in every way to find a win/win solution. Perhaps it would be relevant to put on record Richard Kamler’s verbatim email responses to the various women in the committee attempting dialogue, and start to put some flesh on the reductive claims the NCAC makes that the organizers “censored” Kamler’s work out of a “fear of offending”.

To conclude, I would ask that the NCAC document the statement in their press release of November 20, 2009 that the organizers were “repeatedly assured that religious scholars agreed that the installation did not violate any religious taboos.” I have been on the inside of this debate, and nothing could be further from the truth. Please document your claim. It is worrisome to see an organization like the NCAC rush to judgment in defense of Richard Kamler, and in the process massage this situation into a simplistic sound byte, “proven” with half-truths or outright false statements. Finally, it is alarming to hear NCAC suggest that if the “committee wanted to reduce the possibility of disagreement and ambiguity, perhaps it should have simply organized a show of archival photographs rather than an art exhibition.” Does NCAC really have such a simplistic view of how historical evidence gets meaning? We can start that dialogue with a look at Eroll Morris’s recent documentary, “Standard Operating Procedure”, about the meaning of the archival photographs at Abu Ghraib.

I stand by this upcoming exhibition at the John Slade Ely House for Contemporary Art in New Haven.

Nancy Austin, PhD
Participating Artist

Posted by: Walt | November 26, 2009 6:29 AM

Not censorship.

The organizers have the right to manage their own event.

Just liberal blogging.

Posted by: Watcher | November 26, 2009 3:13 PM

I understand the idea of the project may have been for good but the offensive part is desecrating holy literature. It may be meaningless to some people but how would you feel if something that meant a lot to you was destroyed in the name of "art". How would you feel if it was the Constitution or when people burn the flag?
It may have been different if the artist had written specific quotes himself but to cut them out of holy texts is different. And yes, we have the right to free speech but it doesn't go without boundaries. We don't go around saying racist or sexist terms because it's disgusting. When we see swastikas, it's called vandalism for a reason. The person who did it could call it art, free speech, his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But realistically he will be punished. You don't say sexually explicit things to your co-workers because that sexual harassment, which you'd probably lose your job over. You don't go around shooting people because it's a crime. And as far as flushing a holy book down the toilet, that's really sad to see and to hear that people would have such little respect for others and their beliefs. Something that you have little regard for may mean the world to another and we should really be respectful of it even if we think it's ridiculous.

Posted by: robn | November 27, 2009 8:27 AM

The article is unclear about the Orchard Street Shul Cultural Heritage Artists Project. Did this group act as a "sponsor", "organizer" or "curator"? This is an important distinction. It would also be interesting to see the project guidelines.

Posted by: Walt | November 27, 2009 9:38 AM

Good to see Jimmy Jones quoted above. Must be almost as old as the hills (as am I)

Forgot he was a Muslim. A reasonable and honest community activist in New Haven long, long ago. Nice guy IMHO

Posted by: Jon-Jay Tilsen [TypeKey Profile Page] | November 27, 2009 9:39 AM

I don't get it. If I submitted my display of pet boogers for the exhibit and the organizers reject it because they find it disgusting or ugly or offensive, why is that not their right? This is not a government-sponsored exhibit and the organizers can do whatever they want. Why would anyone want to censor their exercise of discretion in organizing this exhibition?

Posted by: Ned | November 27, 2009 11:04 AM

Watcher,

Have you ever read those "holy" books?... "The organizers have the right to manage their own event." and the "artist" can work the publicity angle; however, if you are going to set "boundaries" on what other people say, I'd suggest you start with those "holy" books. The genocide and murdering in the bible predates the Nazis by a few millennium.

Posted by: Watcher | November 27, 2009 3:04 PM

Ned,

yes I have read actually two of the books; in fact I've studied many religions and done papers on them. Have you? I may not agree with everything or even anything any of the religions preach but I'm not going to disrespect anyone's religion because that's just an ugly thing to do and I know how I would feel if someone did that to me. As far as boundaries, I'm not setting them, the law is; so if you have a problem with that you can take it up with the ones who make them.

Posted by: Ned | November 27, 2009 5:17 PM

Watcher,
You wouldn't "disrespect" Fred Phelps' religion? You wouldn't "disrespect" the religion of the Taliban? I'll keep flushing. Thanks.

Posted by: Ned | November 29, 2009 9:40 AM

Watcher, moral/cultural relativism is hazardous. Here are a few more examples of "[w]holy" motivated beliefs/practices that shouldn't, according to overwrought piety, be "disrespected":

The mistaken belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven thousands of Africa's albinos into hiding, fearful of losing their lives and limbs to unscrupulous dealers who can make up to $75,000 selling a complete dismembered set.


Sudan: Women Sentenced To 20 Lashes For Wearing Pants

Evangelical pastors are helping to create a terrible new campaign of violence against young Nigerians. Children and babies branded as evil are being abused, abandoned and even murdered while the preachers make money out of the fear of their parents and their communities.

Anne Barker, a reporter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was caught in a violent protest of Orthodox Jews against a local carpark that would be open on Saturday--or Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest--that left her "humiliated and degraded", the ABC reports. Expecting a conservative crowd, Barker tells her story of dressing modestly and maintaining a low profile to cover the protest, only to have the mob turn on her and drench her in spit.

Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), is a member of an influential evangelical network in Washington, D.C. known as "The Family." The network has very close ties to both Parliamentarians and the President in Uganda, who are currently championing an Anti-Homosexuality Bill that will result in gay people being sentenced to death in Uganda.

Kind of amazes me that 90% of these fetishized, poisonous religious texts needs to be ignored, explained away, or apologized for. Aleatorcicism is a real threat to some ink and fiber...

Posted by: Congregant | November 29, 2009 6:21 PM

JJ Tilsen -

Very surprised you commented on the NHI blog, separation of church/state. Thought you would address this from the podium to your congregation.

Member-
BEKI

Posted by: Joyce Burstein | December 1, 2009 7:17 PM

I am the artist who withdrew in protest of the censorship of Richard Kamler's work.

I knew about it because I was a member of the committee. When I objected to
the rejection of Kamler's work I was removed from the committee so they
would have a unanimous vote. I then contacted every artist in the show to
let them know and give them the opportunity to take action with me to
change the minds of the committee members. Not one artist joined me - not
surprising considering the effort that goes into creating site specific work, which can rarely be shown elsewhere but at the site for which it is intended. I spent the better part of a year developing an architectural scale installation for the show so I do not take this lightly. I am now not in the show or the accompanying catalogue because I will not be involved in
a censored exhibition.

Please understand, this is not a case of an artist applying for a show
and being turned down. Rubin, the organizer of the show, accepted Kamler's
project and knew about it in detail, Bible/Koran pages and all, since
spring. In fact, all of the artists were accepted into the show on the
basis of their proposals and then created the work at their own expense
throughout the spring summer and fall. Kamler, like most of the out of town artists, made one visit
to the site.

The censorship took place after he was already in the exhibition, as a
result of a kind of sanctimonious religiosity without scholarly basis,
which overshadowed the process of realizing the exhibition.

It was not curatorial judgment, it was censorship.
Joyce Burstein

Posted by: Watcher | December 1, 2009 8:29 PM

Ned,

the examples you have given are of people committing heinous acts in the name of religion. This is their interpretation, or whatever you want to call it, that they have distorted. The three main religions that you were referring to in the beginning do not preach to go around doing any of these things. People make up their own religions all the time, and sometimes they get away with stuff in the name of religion as long as it's within the laws (at least in this country). The things people are doing in other countries is something their governments should be monitoring. I agree with you that many of the examples you have given are just downright horrible horrible acts, but just because some people do horrible things in the name of religion doesn't give you the right to judge and label everyone else as the same. Flushing a holy book is pretty ignorant and makes those who do it no better than the people who you are trying to insult. Let me ask you, what do you accomplish by insulting someone else or flushing someone's holy book? If you think it is just ink and fiber what difference does it make to you?

Posted by: Ned | December 2, 2009 12:46 PM

Watcher:
"The examples [I] have given are of people committing heinous acts in the name of religion." No, they are examples of religious people acting on their ridiculous beliefs - like the Nazis with their "Got mitt uns" (yes, isn't he, she, it always?) slogan - why is their interpretation any more or less "distorted" than your own?

"People make up their own religions all the time" As if there is a religion that isn't "made up"? [see above]. Time to grow up (and move out of the Bronze Age).

"Holy" is a nonsense word.

Religion can dish it out, but, apparently, it can't take it - apparently easily "bowled" over...

"doesn't give you the right to judge and label" blah, blah, blah. As to what my, or anyone's rights are (to make pointed comments about fairy tales?), last time I noticed we were still living in a free country, not in a theocracy.

Words like faith, holy, religion or belief, are not mental locks or conversation stoppers for people with free minds.

Have a nice day!

Posted by: Watcher | December 3, 2009 6:50 PM

Ned:

What are you talking about? Do you know any religious people? Are all of them crazy just because they believe in a higher being?

What is my “distorted: interpretation that you refer to?

Living in the “Bronze Age”? Just because I believe in respect for others? Wow! Seriously? Yes, I agree SOMEONE needs to do some growing up. Get over it man, bad stuff happens everyday! You can try and do what you can to make it better but at the end of the day it’s still life and no matter what you do, the world will NEVER be perfect, so instead of being part of the problem, going around and criticizing, do something productive, learn some humility and respect, or else keep your crap to yourself because complaining isn’t getting you anywhere. For the record, for those who have "ridiculous" religious beliefs, I think if your not physically hurting someone then have at it; I'll respect you as long as you do the same.

“Holy” may be a nonsense word to you because you clearly are too narrow-minded to understand. You call it fairy tales, but let me tell you something, most of the world’s population believes in some sort of these fairytale religions so insulting them will only make you enemies.

Ya it’s a free country and you can spew all the garbage you want and even flush “holy” books down the toilet, but you’re a hypocrite. You want people to be respected for being gay, have rights to display “art” and blah blah blah but you don’t have the decency to treat others the same or even acknowledge any modesty on your part. You think because someone is religious then they don’t qualify to be respected because they’re just less than you right?

I see your getting mad. Maybe your "free mind" can't handle it? If you can’t take the heat don’t dish it out. You have more? Keep it coming and I’ll send it back.

Posted by: Richard Kamler | December 4, 2009 3:03 PM

There has been so many misperceptions, both in the press and the comments to me i the press, that I want to try and "set the record straight",


1. I was not rejected from a curated show, in fact I was an invited participant in a show of site specific work – I was rejected from the show only after I went to New Haven, developed an idea (which was enthusiastically received), and built an installation based on that idea. The exhibition was in development over a whole year, I only received a letter of rejection in early November, a month before the opening. Here are the details: This past spring I was sent a call for participation regarding a show in New Haven describing the Orchard Street Shul and the community in and aroud it. I responded to the call with a statement of interest and was invited to be part of the show: my name was posted on the web site by Ms. Rubin, along with 20 or so other artists who were included in the show. I was then invited to sit on an advisory committe and gave advice to Ms. Rubin regarding elements of the process. In May(?) I visited New Haven to look at the synagogue and its environs. Soon afterwards, Ms. Rubin and the Artist Committee knew what my piece was to look like and voiced no objections. When they saw images of the actual installation they described the art as "exquisite", "beautiful", "profound." There was no indication that there would be further review of art that was created specifically for this show. Nevertheless, in September I was asked to make modification in the piece because “it was offensive” to some in the community.(?) I was then asked to submit an image for the catalogue, but also given an ultimatum to remove the intertwined Muslim and Jewish texts. I refused to modify my piece as the interweaving was crucial to its message. As a result, in early November, a month before the opening, I was rejected from the show.

2. The piece of art is not a collage, but a weaving of pieces of paper that come from the Bible and the Koran. The intention of the weaving is to visually suggest the interconnectedness, the common ground, of the two cultures, the Muslims and the Jews.

3. All my research indicates that I have not desecrated either the Bible or the Koran. My paperback copy of the Koran was a book which had Arabic, transliteration of the Arabic into English and English. The Bible was, as well, a paperback copy, not a Torah scroll, and in both English and Hebrew.

Officials at the American Academy of Religion were unaware of any official rule restricting a pictorial presentation of the Qur'an. Apparently passages from the Qu’ran decorate the walls of Muslim leaders and every mosque is covered with Arabic calligraphy with Qur'anic verses.”

The Islamic Center of San Francisco said regarding the book I used: This is not the Koran. It is simply a copy. The "real" Koran is in Arabic, not 1/3 Arabic, 1/3 transliteration into English, and i/3 in English.

The Interfaith Gathering/Dialog in San Francisco and(?) the Islamic Center and Temple Emanuel have expressed interest in showing the work.

Posted by: Nanotek | December 29, 2009 5:49 PM

I can't believe Kamler is equating "pictorial presentation of the Qur'an" -- such as rendering phrases in calligraphy, which are often used as beautiful decorations and designs, also similar to artistic representations of many quotes from the Torah -- with CUTTING UP PAGES from each book, which is what he did and is a treatment that both religions consider desecration

sounds like a smokescreen to me.

If the artist had genuinely tried to create an opportunity for Jewish-Muslim dialogue in New Haven, the outcome would have been very different. He sounds totally disingenuous.

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