Friday, September 11, 2009

Contemporary alchemy
Petr Nikl offers a ritual to reanimate the Golem.

Posted: September 9, 2009

By Tony Ozuna - For the [Prague] Post

The Golem, Prague's most mysterious and enduring Jewish legend, is closely associated with Rabbi Loew, also known as the Maharal of Prague, who died 400 years ago and is currently the subject of an exhibition at Prague Castle. Meanwhile, local artist and performer Petr Nikl is offering a different take on the Golem at the Robert Guttmann Gallery in Josefov.

Loew was the chief rabbi, and thus leader, of Prague's Jewish community from 1596 to 1604. This was during the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, who, as monarch of the Holy Roman Empire, made Prague the center of his esoteric activities. According to legend, he even visited Rabbi Loew's home in the Jewish Quarter, along with the famous German astronomer Johannes Kepler and the Danish alchemist Tycho Brahe.

Nikl is a contemporary artist-alchemist who creates interactive sculptures and installations as if he were a direct descendent of Brahe or Kepler. His Golem, described as "a tactile sculpture for drawing with light," takes the form of a huge crystal ball - or at least that's how it appears from a distance in the dimly lit, elongated gallery space.

Upon entering the gallery, visitors are given instructions on a video screen to look for a sign or word that will revive the Golem - that is, their own "imaginary Golem," using a combination of letters, symbols or whatever other marks they choose to make on a drawing board in the room, which they should imagine to be the Golem's forehead.

Related item here. More golem posts here.