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HERITAGE ,FLORIDA JEWISH N IEWS, MARCH 30, 2012 PAGE 19A Einstein online: Internet archive offers window into physicist's li:fe and work By Linda Gradstein brew University's president, all of his writings--as well as academic head ofthe Einstein EI-Nashashibi, the editor JERUSALEM--Ever won- der about Albert Einstein's love life Now you can get a first- hand glimpse by searching the newly improved Einstein Archives website, which re- launched last Monday with expanded offerings. The online archive now makes available digitally 2,000 documents from Ein- stein's papers and other sources, as well as a searchable catalogue of more than 80,000 documents held in the Ein- stein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "You see a person who makes mistakes, crosses things out and rewrites just like everyone else," said Me- nachem Ben-Sasson, the He- By Eric Herschthal New York Jewish Week The case is sometimes made that when it comes to telling truths about Israel-- be they good, bad or ugly--it's probably best to have a Jew do it. But Kehinde Wiley, a gay black artist from South Central Los Angeles, may be offering the definitive rebuke to that notion. His new exhibit, "Kehinde Wiley / The World Stage: Is- rael," is now on view through July 29 at The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Ave. at 92nd St. The exhibit features 14 enormous, princely portraits of Israelis--Ethiopian Jews, Ashkenazis and Arabs. Yet what strikes you first is not the subjects' differences, but what they all share: a defiant self-cohfidence rooted in hip- hop culture. "It's all about breaking down assumptions that we carry," Wiley, 35, told The Jew- ish Week in a recent interview. "What I wanted to do with [my] Israel [series] is go beyond the political realm and key in on some of the emotional aspects--what does.it mean to be an Israeli on the streets of Tel Aviv today?" The Israel series is part of a larger series of portraits Wiley has made of young urban men around the globe. Titled "The World Stage," Israel is Wiley's fifth stop on a world tour that had already taken him to Brazil, West Africa, China and India. He chose Israel, he said, for the central role the country, and the Middle East, play in America today. "It's quite clear that Israel is important to America and the region," he said, referring to the Middle East. "But I wanted to get a different perspective about it .... It was an oppor- tunity for me to learn more." He picked Israel as one of his destinations for "The World Stage" series two years ago, just before the Arab Spring. He spent a month in the coun- try's clubs, bars and hip urban hangouts looking for possible suljets to paint. After taking hundreds of photos of Israelis, he ultimately selected 18 to paint. (Four portraits are excluded from the exhibit.) What he looked for in his subjects was "a kind of swag- ger," he said, "you know it" "It shows that even a.genius is human." Regardifig Einstein's ro- mantic life, there are dozens of love letters that he wrote to his future second wife while he was still married to his first. There is also a letter from his mistress Betty Neumann, who fell in love with Einstein in 1923 whenshe was 23 and he was 44. Their affair lasted nearly a year. In the letter, written in 1938, Neumann asks Einstein, who had moved to the U.S., for help escaping Germany. Einstein is able to help her and she escapes the Holocaust. Einstein, who lived from 1879 to 1955, was a founder of the Hebrew University and one of its most loyal support- ers. In his will he bequeathed the rights to the use of his im- age-to the university. The online archive is the re- sult of a partnership between the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University, the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and the Princeton University Press. An earlier version of the site, launched in 2003, fea- tured 900 manuscripts and a catalogue of 43,000 records. "The renewed site is anoth- er expression of the Hebrew University's intent to share with the entire cultural world this vast intellectual property which has been deposited into its hand by Einstein himself," said Hanoch Gutfreund, a physicist, former president of the Hebrew University and the Archive, in a statement. The current digitization project is funded by the Polon- sky Foundation UK. Leonard Polonsky recently helped digitize a similar archive belonging to Isaac Newton. At a Jerusalem news con- ference, Polonsky cited the fates of the ancient Library of Alexandria, which burned in a fire in 48 BCE, and of the libraries in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. "What happened to the libraries there?" he asked. "Now these documents can never be destroyed." In addition to the famous theory of relativity in Ein- stein's own handwriting, the online archive features his non-scientific papers. In one letter, written to Azmi of Falastin newspaper, Ein- stein offers aplan for ending the Arab-Israeli conflict: Each side should appoint a four-person delegation, including a lawyer, a doctor and a clergyman, and they would meet continuously, in secret, until they reached a solution. "Maybe if nothing else works, this is a good way to reach an agreement," Gut- freund said. A number of documents of Correspondence between Einstein and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency were discovered recently in the JTA archives in New York. The correspondence included four signed letters from Albert Einstein sent during 1947 and 1948. Portraits of lsraelis as young men Alfred Eisenstaedt via CC An online archive of docu- ments related to Albert Einstein, pictured here at his home in Princeton, N.J., in 1949, has recently been relaunched and upgraded. when you see it." fects social relations beyond things even further, the subject, and allow for a The Arab Spring erupted America's borders. That in But don't mistake Wiley's level of freedom that is prob- before he began painting, but part explains why so many of " work for being about race ably even impossible." itonlyconvincedhimthathis these portraits, about two- alone. While race remains Cal1212-423-3200formore choice of Israel was prescient, thirds, are of Ethiopian Jews, central, he is equally inter- information. Even though Israel is one of manyofwhomimmigratedto ested in the construction of ., . , the few countries not to have Israeldurmgthe airhfts of the identity, genderandin upend- "liT______ been upended by revolution, mid-1980sand'90s, ing traditional assumptions th, rmppy he could detect an insubordi- "I would ask them, point- about art. natespiritamongmany ofthe blank: Do you feel Israeli? Or "This idea that my work is l an marginalized Israelis he met. do you feel African?" Wiley abouthip-hopisalittle reduc- U "WiththeArabSpringwe're explained.Theanswer"wasas Live," Wiley said, alluding to starting to see a yearning for varied as the people," he said. critics who often discuss his Pea tul Passover leadership that goes beyond For Ethiopian Jews like work solely in terms of urban tyrannical dictatorship," he Solomon Mashash, painted black culture."What I'm inter- said. "You see that that in the here in a,gold T-shirtwith two estedinistheperformanceof to all our friends youthculturethroughoutthe leaping Iopards, racism is a masculinity, the performance MiddleEast[includingIsrael]; pervasive problem. "It's very of ethnicity, and how they we all want the same thing." hard to be a black person in intermingle across cultures." Indeed, it can be startling Israel," we hear Mashash say Shortly after graduating to see portraits of Israeli men in short documentary onview from Yale's MFA program in who might otherwise be po- in the exhibit. 2001,Wiley tookthe art world litical adversaries--Arab and But for other Ethiopian by storm, all while thumb- Jew;blackandwhite--lookso Jews like KalkidanMashasha, ing his nose at its notions of strangely alike, a ripper in Israelwho became beauty. "Ilovethatabou.tthework," something like Wiley's tour Since the birth of the said Karen Levitov, a curator guide, his religious identity avant-garde in the early at The Jewish Museum who seems to jostle for attention 20th century, luxuriant, organized the Wiley exhibit, with his national and racial aristocratic portraits like "You don't know just by look- ones. "I'm proud to be Jew- those favored by Wiley have Andy, Karen, Nathaniel and ing at them if they're Jewish ish," he raps, in lyrics printed fallen out of fashion. Even Gabrielle Reiff or Arab, or Israeli or not .... in the exhibit's catalog. "And post-year figurative painters If you saw these people on are you proud to be Israeli?" like Lucien Freud, say, and the streets of New York, you he continues, without ever present-day practitioners like wouldn't think twice." answering. Lisa Yuskavage and George The similarities are not The catalog offers a fuller Condo, who are celebrated 4! [ , only reflected in the subjects' portrait of Mashasha and the for their grand, large-scale oil similar urban dress, now a shifting sands of his identity, portraits, have found success I ubiquitous global phenom- His fatherwasimprisonedand by deliberatively courting the _ . _-'s[, k  1 enon. They are reflected in torturedfor helping Ethiopian grotesque..  ii!i'!i  iiI Wiley's aesthetic style. Like Jews escape to Israel in the But Wiley's success--his he has being doing for much 1980s. By the time Mashasha paintingshave been acquired ..... of his career, he paints his andhisfamilymadeittolsrael by more than 40 museums, '-ri-i- " : , "i' men against richly colored in 1989, his father was too including the Metropolitan backgrounds, inspired here disabled to work; Mashasha Museum of Art, the Los [": "'i bytraditionalArabandJewish grew up poor. AngelesCounty Museum of  '! 'I .... I ' ....  designs. Though he won a scholar- Art and, now, The Jewish Mu- 0 : Y " For research, he looked to ship to Hebrew University, scum--has been predicated h " ,; O " Jewishfolkartlikepaper-cuts which he attended during ontheideathatold-fashioned and Torah ark tapestries, breaks in military service, notions of beauty can again ar|TPI later selecting centuries-old Mashasha never felt fully be taken seriously--yet only examples owned by The Jew- Israeli. So in 2008, having as long as the subject is Providing Quality Preventive, ish Museum to be displayed savedupmoneyfromhistime changed. alongside his pa.intings. For workingonakibbutz, hetook His subjects, usually ur- Esthetic and Restorative the backgrounds ofArabs and a heritage tour to Ethiopia. ban black youth, challenge ' S J 'Arana"ernent'r the Oral Ethiopian Jews, he studied The trip was eye opening: "It unchecked assumptions we Arab ornamentation and was there that I understood might have of what classical Health of our Patient Family traditional lthiopian motifs, that I was an Israeli," he says portraiture can be. These Lookingathisportraitsside in the catalog, marginalized black men are x_ _i by side, the cultural borrow- Wiley says that [earning meant to look just as breath- tnlal Associates or Mailtand, P.A ingbecomes obvious. Rococo about how Ethiopians felt in taking on museum walls as curls,-snaking, vine-like pat- Israel complicated his own a white Catholic priest, or a BernardA. Kal00,"-n D.D.S. terns, and beastly images views about race. "The whole European prince, Wiley says. . ([:Ni:[,L O TISTRY i of goats, lions and birds are black-white dichotomy has to "My work is trying to come i:11 common tropes throughout, get thrown out the window to terms with that tradition," But Wiley was not only when you're outside of Amer- he said. interested in complicating ica/' he explained. Though he Whether his subjects are 926 N. Maitland Avenue Maitland, FI. 32751 the narrative of conflict that was fullyaware ofthe nuanCeSand urbanblackrappers, gay men, 629-4220 seems to define Israel. He of race within America Arab, Ashkenazi or Ethiopian {407) wanted to learn more about within the black community, Israelis, Wiley's effort to re- how race--a steady focus he saw how nationality and vivify classical portraiture DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER throughout his careeraf- religion could complicate continues. "I want to change I Eric Herschthal is staff writer for The New York Jewish Week, from which this article was reprinted by permission.