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Case Study No. 2 The Inventory Project (2012) Exhibition Labels Booklet

Case Study No. 2 The Inventory Project (2012) Exhibition Labels Booklet

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Visit the exhibition page at http://www.magnes.org/visit/exhibitions-programs/exhibitions/case-study-no-2-inventory-project
Visit the exhibition page at http://www.magnes.org/visit/exhibitions-programs/exhibitions/case-study-no-2-inventory-project

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life on Aug 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Magnes Collectionof Jewish Art and Life
The Bancroft LibraryUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley
Warren Hellman Galler August 28–December 16, 2012
The display cases at the very center of The Magnesbuilding are designed to unleash the curatorial mindby presenting diverse collection items, a variety ofdisplay modes, and a wide range of perspectives.This is the ideal platform for the
Case Study 
exhibi-tion series, conceived as a “scholar’s playground.”Each year, UC Berkeley faculty, graduate studentsand visiting scholars will collaborate with thecurators of The Magnes in creating collection-basedexhibitions based on emerging research.It is our privilege to inaugurate the series with anexhibition created in collaboration with JeffreyShandler, Professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers,and a leading gure in the study of modern Jewishculture.
The Inventory Project 
draws on his currentresearch on the role of inventory as a practice ofmodern Jewish life and offers an unconventionallook at The Magnes Collection’s multi-dimensionalarchive, library, and museum holdings.In the course of several months, Jeffrey Shandlerand I explored the collection in search of a varietyof items that relate to the act of inventorying. Wehighlight here rosters, calendars, glossaries, andmaps, but also ritual objects, items of clothing, post-cards, souvenir books, and restaurant menus. Theseobjects were created by Jews in Europe, Israel andthe Americas, as well as North Africa, the MiddleEast and India, to take stock of their own activitiesand social status, to celebrate themselves and theircommunities, or to cope with immigration and exile.At times, they were also the product of the “other”—as in the emblematic case of the bureaucratic appa-ratus of the Spanish Inquisition—devised to accountfor Jewish particularism.Each of the eighty items in the exhibition is subjectto a multiplicity of views and interpretations.Accompanying the physical display, digital compo-nents online and on-site will allow for the growingunderstanding of a phenomenon that, as JeffreyShandler writes, is a “dening practice of modernJewish culture, although seldom recognized as such.”
—Francesco Spagnolo, Curator 
by Jeffrey Shandler
As part of my ongoing research on the role ofinventory in modern Jewish life, I came to TheMagnes looking for examples of inventories.To nd them, I started with an inventory: thedatabase of all Magnes holdings, which I searchedusing such keywords as “list,” “roster,” “table,”“catalog,” “register,” “menu,” “chart,” and, ofcourse, “inventory.” I also looked in collections ofcertain kinds of objects, such as postcards andcalendars, which I knew would offer interestingexamples of inventory. Magnes staff memberssuggested additional items in the collection withwhich they were familiar.While gathering these items, I thought about howto organize them as an “inventory of inventories.”Certain categories of inventorying emerged fromthe juxtaposition of individual examples. Theseincluded categories I was already interested in,such as inventories of people or of things, as wellas new possibilities for grouping these items fromthe Magnes collections. As is true of all invento-ries, how items are organized is key to assigningmeaning to them.When my inventory of inventories from The Magnespassed into the hands of Magnes staff for thecreation of this exhibition, the juxtaposition of indi-vidual examples continued to change, creating stillmore possibilities for seeing connections amongthis diverse assortment of objects. This, too, is trueto the spirit of inventories, whose contents are con-stantly on the move and whose rubrics are regularlyreconceived.Following are brief discussions of some of the newcategories of Jewish inventory that emerged fromthis project. I hope that visitors to the exhibition willbe stimulated by what is on display here and willcontinue the process of exploring the role of inven-tory in modern Jewish life.
The pervasive, standardized measuring of time is adening characteristic of modern life. Regulated unitsof time appear in inventories of Jewish life rangingfrom itineraries for package tours of Israel to listingsof the precise minute for lighting holiday candles.Modern Jewish calendars integrate multiplerubrics related to measuring time. Each page ofthese calendars typically displays a month accord-ing to the Gregorian calendar with correspond-ing dates of the Jewish months. Calendars alsoprovide information regarding traditional religiouspractice, celebrate Jewish history and accomplish-ments, or promote accord between Jews and theirneighbors. In each case, the practical role of thecalendar for tracking time according to two dif-ferent systems of reckoning is enhanced with in-formation of symbolic importance, to be contem-plated throughout the year.

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