Sundaram Tagore Gallery is presenting a sculpture, photography and installations by Israeli-born American artist Ghiora Aharoni. The New York-based artist examines complex dualities—from the intersection of religion and science, to the intertwined relationships among seemingly disparate cultures. The Ghau Series is on view at Sundaram Tagore Madison Avenue, at 82nd Street, in New York City through October 2.
Aharoni’s work is also on view at The Textile Museum in Washington D.C. through April 2022. The exhibition, which explores the metaphysical relationship between text and textiles, is part of a year-long collaboration with the museum, along with a research residency, academic seminars, public programs and another exhibition later this year. Ghiora Aharoni’s sculptural media installation Make Me a Temple Within (The Ghau Series) comprises a collection of vintage portable Buddhist shrines—or ghaus—retrofitted with small video screens.
Born in Rehovot, Israel, in 1969, Aharoni grew up in a home full of diverse cultures and languages. He was introduced to the central texts of Jewish mysticism at an early age, which he incorporates into his work in abstract and literal ways. He often merges sacred texts of different faiths with traditional objects, such as vintage glass beakers and nineteenth-century Torah finials. By combining these texts and cultural artifacts and imbuing them with new meaning, Aharoni invites us to expand our perceptions of how cultures, religions and genders are interwoven.
Aharoni has exhibited his work widely, including at the Rubin Museum, New York, the Jewish Museum Vienna, the Museum of Contemporary Art, London and Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (formerly The Victoria & Albert Museum), Mumbai. His work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Morgan Library & Museum, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, among others.
Replacing the traditional glass meant to encase a sacred object, the screen displays a video montage the artist created of Buddhist monks prostrating as they circumambulate pilgrimage sites. The video is interwoven with ambient sound and other devotional rituals. It plays in a continuous loop, echoing the peaceful, meditative quality of the circumambulation. The series title was inspired by a phrase in the Hebrew Bible: “Make me a temple so I will dwell inside you.” Rather than suggesting a physical structure, it is an invocation to manifest spiritual energy within oneself.
“The series celebrates the intimate relationship between the individual and the divine in public devotional rituals, where the realms of the personal and the public unite in a transcendent spiritual energy,” Aharoni says. Aharoni’s work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, The Vatican Library, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Washington D.C.’s National Gallery of Art, among others. His work has been widely exhibited, including at the Rubin Museum, New York, the Jewish Museum Vienna and the Museum of Contemporary Art, London.