Marisa Mazria Katz is a New York-based writer and reporter who has covered culture and politics in cities that include Casablanca, Kabul, Port-au-Prince, and Istanbul. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Time, Vogue, The New York Times, and on NPR. She has run, since its launch in October 2018, the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism. (April 2020)
Marisa Mazria Katz: Your paintings feel very experiential, almost like walking through a landscape. And so much of your imagery seems to have been derived from the traveling you do. Is there a sense that if that stops, so will the inspiration for your art?
Yevgeniya Baras: I have so much mining to do because of the many chapters I’ve already lived that I’m not worried about running out of material to build meaning from. And being an immigrant ends up being a blessing in this case because I speak two languages fluently. So I’m reading in two, I’m watching in two. I’m talking on Skype with friends in two. I have this larger world.
Anna Winger: “This year, a real plague is upon us. It will just be the four of us around the table—my husband, my children, and me. To celebrate this holiday of all holidays alone truly underscores our strange isolation. Here in Berlin, it’s never easy to gather what you need for a seder. This year, who knows? Maybe we’ll find a lamb bone, maybe a box of matzo, maybe not. Does it matter? I don’t think so. The story is what matters. The suffering of the Israelites gives us empathy, and their survival, strength. So we tell each other this story—over and over, this year more than ever, in every language.”
Marisa Mazria Katz: Why did you position the Lamassu this way?
Michael Rakowitz: I decided there was no way that I was going to allow for this Lamassu to look like it is one more piece that is going to be sheltered in this Western museum. I’m very happy to say that the Lamassu stands there with its ass to the museum and it’s actually looking southeast toward Parliament, and toward the Foreign Office where the decision to enter the Iraq War was made. It’s also looking past them, toward Nineveh, toward Iraq, hoping that it will return one day.
Like many in the ruling coalition, the Culture Minister Miri Regev is openly against the establishment of a Palestinian state and has proposed annexing parts of the West Bank. She curries favor well with voters, in part because she fuses her political agenda with her promise to upend the monopoly that Israel’s Ashkenazi elite has had on the country’s cultural establishment. While Regev’s tenure may not represent a permanent, more coercive and censorious change in how the arts are funded in Israel, she embodies the sea-change in Israeli society, from a country that downplayed its inequities and declining democratic norms, to one that flaunts them.