Art | Hip-Hop | Israel

Kehinde Wiley Preview | The Wind Up at The Jewish Museum

1 of
  • Ethiopian-Israeli hip-hop artist Kalkidan Mashasha
    Photo: Sophia Bruneau

  • Composer-multimedia artist and writer Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid
    Photo: Sophia Bruneau

One amazing truth about Hip-Hop music is that it has the power to embed itself anywhere in the world and become part of a global urban culture. Drop a beat, enter your language here, and it becomes a vessel, a mirror of whatever you want it to be.  Last night at The Jewish Museum, Hip-Hop reflected a beautiful mix of language, religion, art and culture in The Wind Up. Israel and Hip-Hop were all wrapped up in one beautiful package inspired by Kehinde Wiley’s newest exhibition, The World Stage: Israel, at The Jewish Museum. 

Walking in to the exhibit, there is an explosion of rich and vibrant colors. Your eyes meet larger-than-life size portraits of today’s young men of Israel. They come from different ethnicities and religious affiliations, but they are woven into the ancient curves and ornamentation of traditional Jewish ceremonial textiles and papercuts. The men are as diverse as the colors and patterns they are embedded into.  Wiley makes very clear that the idea of religion, culture and country are malleable, and are as arbitrary as the perceptions we have of them.

To accompany Wiley’s visual experience, Ethiopian-Israeli hip-hop artist Kalkidan Mashasha and composer-multimedia artist and writer Paul Miller, aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, created a musical experience that pulled from a range of different styles, from the classical compositions of Vivaldi to mash-ups of Eric B. and Rakim’s hip-hip classic, “Paid in Full,” (which in turn samples from the famous Israeli vocalist Ofra Haza’s “Im Nim Alu.”)  Kalkidan performed in Hebrew, vocally gyrating on acoustic string riffs and vintage scratch beats a la DJ Spooky.

It was a night where it didn’t matter what language you spoke or what religion you were affiliated with—it was about the sharing of cultures and perspectives through music and art, using the world as a stage.

Kehinde Wiley’s The World Stage: Israel runs from March 9-July 29, 2012 at The Jewish Museum.

For more information on events at The Jewish Museum, click here.