Inaugural exhibition in the new ground floor space Andrea Meislin Gallery, 534 West 24th Street, New York, NY www.andreameislin.com September 6 – October 13, 2012 Opening Reception: Thursday September 6, 6-8pm
Lili Almog, Ourit Ben-Haim, Orit Ben-Shitrit, Rina Castelnuovo, Michal Chelbin, Blake Eskin, Barry Frydlender, Noel Jabbour, Leora Laor, Naomi Leshem, Loretta Lux, Jackie Nickerson, Sebastiao Salgado, Pentti Sammallahti, Mark Steinmetz, Andrea Stern, Angela Strassheim, Sharon Ya’ari, Liu Zheng

Barry Frydlender, The Blessing, 2005

Feeling blessed to relocate to a Chelsea ground floor space at 534 West 24th Street, Andrea Meislin re-launches the gallery with a group show featuring nineteen artists whose photographs capture Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists practicing rituals of prayer across the world – including in China, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Ukraine, and the United States. Prayer – begging and bargaining, praising and giving thanks, seeking enlightenment and serenity, confessing and repenting, and hedging bets for the afterlife - is one act that is practiced across all nations, cultures, and beliefs. The greater force to which it is directed varies as much as the ritual, both private and public, and in its volume and form – from belting out song to reciting incantations to silent meditation. For some, prayer is deeply entrenched into their daily lives, even the focus; for others, it’s a last ditch effort when all hope is lost. Devotional acts take many physical forms -- Jackie Nickerson’s painterly photograph of an Irish nun in a statue-like pose on her knees, Lili Almog’s female imam on a prayer mat in the unexpected locale of the Chinese countryside, Orit Ben Shitrit’s messiah-like evangelist, speaking in a fictional language of despair, shows it’s not always what they say but how they deliver it, Andrea Stern’s boys preparing for choir, and the trust in water’s healing powers in both Mark Steinmetz and Noel Jabbour’s river baptismal scenes. There’s a sense of incongruence between traditional culture and modern society in Liu Zheng’s image of a contemporary Chinese monk in an ancient setting, and Barry Frydlender’s photograph of Hasidic men on a pilgrimage wearing ancestral garb and using cell phones. Assembled from numerous shots and revealing artificiality with its inconsistencies, the work prompts us to contemplate ideas of tradition and modernism through both content and form.

Private rituals transposed to the public realm, to accommodate our busy lives, are captured in Angela Strassheim’s image of a family saying grace in McDonalds for their bounty of Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets. Blake Eskin’s Instagram photos and Ourit Ben-Haim’s formally composed images document commuters using the NYC subway as their makeshift prayer room - reading holy scripture alongside riders engrossed in Stephen King, the daily news, or catching a few winks. Places of worship range from traditional buildings to sublime and devastated landscapes. Jerusalem’s Old City is home to several sites of key religious importance: the Temple Mount and its Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – where Leora Laor shot her playfully titled work, Pilgr-Image. The un-staged theatrical image reflects the extreme emotional moments and postures in sacred places between people and the ethereal. Sebastiao Salgado’s stunning photograph is a bird’s-eye view showing rows and rows of people praying in a mosque in Jakarta. Pentti Sammallahti’s stark image of a single grave marker, in this surreal battle-scarred landscape, is infused with a sense of overwhelming grief and longing. Nature is the place for communing in Sharon Ya’ari’s photograph of a boy daringly jumping into the rain-filled Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert, embodying the saying ‘on a wing and a prayer.’ Naomi Leshem’s serene and contemplative image of a boat anchored with a cross in the Sea of Galilee, marking the site of a plane crash, belies a darker exploration of the uncertainty of death. And Ukraine prisons are the sites of Michal Chelbin’s images of people finding comfort and potential redemption in religion when all hope is lost in this life. Supplication and direct petition are seen in Rina Castelnuovo’s image of males performing a rain prayer to reverse the drought in the Sea of Galilee, as well as a photograph of a soldier praying on top of his tank on the Gaza border while smoke billows in the distance. “Making a Wish” has become a ubiquitous reflex in our lives - expected when blowing out candles or spying a shooting star. When the child in Loretta Lux’s photograph is granted three wishes we wonder what power she’s invoking – an abstract fairy, the universe, or the same force to which her nightly prayers are directed. At its essence, and through its many forms, prayer is a surrender of self to a greater force in our endless search for answers, solace, and fulfillment. For more information and short bios on the artists go to www.andreameislin.com
For all press inquiries, please contact Courtney Richter at Courtney@andreameislin.com or 212.627.2552



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