April 7, 2015 - The Jewish Museum - Repetition and Difference
April 7, 2015

Repetition and Difference

Repetition and Difference, 2015. Exhibition view, The Jewish Museum, New York, 2015. Photo: David Heald.

Repetition and Difference
March 13–August 9, 2015

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Ave at 92nd St
New York, NY 10128
Hours: Friday–Tuesday 11am–5:45pm, 
Wednesday closed (shops open 11am–3pm),
Thursday 11am–8pm

T +1 212 423 3200
F +1 212 423 3232 


In 1968, the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote his now-iconic book Difference and Repetition. The text was fundamental to the discourses of its time, offering an unprecedented analysis of representation, language, history, and capitalism. One of its important points is that in the history of philosophy, both difference and repetition have always been understood as negative, derivative qualities that only exist in relation to some unique entity. Deleuze tries to understand difference in and of itself, and repetition not as something finite, but as reinvention, an “active force producing difference.”

These ideas are explored in the exhibition Repetition and Difference through both historic works and recent art. The Jewish Museum storerooms are filled with multiples—for instance, dozens of examples of a particular ritual object. Yet a close examination reveals crucial differences among the iterations, which speak volumes about social and political conditions, the expression of individuality, consumer culture, and the joy of artistic invention.

Multiples from the collection are presented together with works by contemporary artists who explore ideas of difference within repetition. They focus our attention on subtle details—nuances that critique advertising, commodity consumption, and mass production. Their art exists outside of the monotony of the everyday and encourage us to look differently and repeatedly at our own existence.

Several themes are common to both sets of works. Some pieces explore concepts of the human body and its frailties, or the importance of human touch in the creative process. Others challenge the conformity and standardization that may be imposed by government, religious ritual, or mass culture. The peculiarities of communication and the manipulative power of language are another recurring motif. Finally, a number of works play with the nature of copies, exploring the aesthetics and technology of difference within replication.

Susan L. Braunstein, Henry J. Leir Curator
Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs

Repetition and Difference artists: Walead Beshty, Sarah Crowner, Abraham Cruzvillegas, N. Dash, John Houck, Koo Jeong A, Kris Martin, Amalia Pica, Hank Willis Thomas

Repetition and Difference objects: Hanukkah lamps, marriage contracts, Mezuzah cases, Pillar figurines, skullcaps, spice containers, Torah binders, Tyrian shekels

Public programs

A Closer Look gallery talks
April 13 and 27, May 11; June 1, 15 and 29; July 13 & 27
Weekly in-depth explorations of select works of art; Mondays at 1pm.
Free with museum admission, find out more here.

In Response: Repetition and Difference
Sunday, May 10, 6:30pm 
This collaboration between Columbia University’s School of the Arts and the Jewish Museum offers current MFA candidates and recent alumni of the Visual Arts Program an opportunity to develop and present new time-based and ephemeral work in response to the exhibition Repetition and Difference. The program returns for its second year and features 12 artists, encompasses performance, installation, and video art, and promises to be a stunning presentation.
Free with RSVP.

Adult Studio workshop:  Making Multiples
Thursday, May 14 and 21, 6–8pm
Following an exploration of Repetition and Difference, artist Chris Domenick leads a two-session workshop in which participants will explore iterative studio processes and printmaking techniques in the museum’s art studio. Class participants will learn about concepts associated with making multiples, and how they differ from singular objects. Discussion will encompass ideas of value, accessibility, identity, and technology.  
All materials included in course fee. Purchase tickets here.

Writers and Artists Respond: Sarah Crowner and Hank Willis Thomas
Thursday, June 25, 6:30 pm
Artists Sarah Crowner and Hank Willis Thomas speak about their work in the context of the exhibition Repetition and Difference, in a conversation with Daniel S. Palmer, Leon Levy Assistant Curator
Free with pay-what-you-wish admission; RSVP recommended

This is How We Do It: Repetition and Difference
Thursday, July 16, 6:30pm
Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, and Susan L. Braunstein, Henry J. Leir Curator, on Repetition and Difference.
Free with pay-what-you-wish admission; RSVP recommended


The Jewish Museum presents Repetition and Difference
The Jewish Museum
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