Western Gallery hosts works by Mendes, Sniderman Oct. 21 – Dec. 7

The Western Gallery at Western Washington University will present two simultaneous exhibitions from Oct. 21 through Dec. 7.

Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman’s “Lost in Jüdischer Friedhof Weißensee” and former faculty member Sebastian Mendes’ “There is a Mirror in My Heart: Reflections on a Righteous Grandfather” both exhibit what Sniderman calls “durational contemplation” - which he defines as “an extended physical-intellectual devotion to a site of excessive meaning.”

The opening reception for the exhibitions is Tuesday, Oct. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m. The reception is free and open to the public. Complimentary parking is available in lot 17G, and refreshments will be served.

Regularly scheduled public events will be held in conjunction with the exhibition. The first event is “The Aesthetics of Multidirectional Memory.” It will be a dialogue between the artist Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman and Jason Groves, Professor of Germanics at the University of Washington. The event will take place in the Western Gallery at 5 p.m. on October 29.  During the exhibition the Gallery will host two evenings for the public to meet artist Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman on Nov. 5 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and Dec. 5 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. See the Gallery’s website for additional programming related to the exhibition.

On October 30, a discussion on “What does it mean to support refugees” will take place in the Gallery, facilitated by the WWU Teaching and Learning Academy by Gabe Gossett, Head of Research for WWU’s Hacherl Research & Writing Studio and Nathan W. Romond, Teaching and Learning Specialist at the Western Libraries and the Learning Commons.

About the artist and exhibition

Born a generation apart, Sniderman and Mendes never met despite overlapping for a time in Bellingham as well as in Berlin, Germany, before Mendes’ untimely death in 2018. They are different in many ways, but what connects them is their use of ritual action as a means for cultural reclamation. Mendes commemorates his grandfather, a Portuguese diplomat who saved the lives of countless refugees during WWII. And in his installation and six-month long performance project, Sniderman mourns and marks the eradication of European Jews in a difficult gesture of reverence and intervention.

Despite differences in subject matter and outlooks, the two artists share important artistic approaches. And both exhibit traces from the process in installations. Sniderman’s site is the immersive and politically charged field of a Jewish burial ground in Berlin. Sebastian’s site is, metaphorically, the embassy desk where his grandfather signed 30,000 transit visas to bring refugees to safety. Through a continuous ritual, Mendes inscribed the names of the refugees, repeating the same action thousands of times without rest. Sniderman uses durational walking as an organizing and accumulative action of public practice, to immerse himself in the diasporic history and politics of Jewish presence. Each work is a personal artistic act of commemoration with an important public significance for everyone to learn from.

About the Western Gallery

The Western Gallery is the art museum of Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. Its mission is to provide free access to a wide range of contemporary art to the North Puget Sound communities, Western Washington, Bellingham, Seattle, and Vancouver, B.C. With a point of reference to the national art scene, the Western Gallery is committed to creating an environment for learning and a center for interdisciplinary discussion of critical issues through historical, contemporary, and experimental art exhibitions, interpretive programs, publications, and a renowned collection of publicly sited contemporary sculpture.

The Western Gallery is free and open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. through the academic year. The gallery is open during scheduled special events and closed during university holidays. Check the website for detailed information.

 Robert Yerachmiel Sniderman’s “Lost in Jüdischer Friedhof Weißensee” on display in the Western Gallery starting Oct. 21