Interactive single-channel video, 3 min, 2022
Sound: Lautaro Schachmann
Acknowledgments: Maia Tarcic, Denise Lara Margules, Julia Benseñor, Martin Jais
Host & support: Eli Kaplan Wildmann / Kol HaOt
1. Meters away from this art space, 2022 years ago, Mary went to the Second Temple with her son Jesus, with a sin offering to purify herself. By then, Jesus and his family had not yet departed from the strict observance of the Jewish law.
2. This event was commemorated as early as the year 318 (right after Constantine I) with a parade of candles in a penitential spirit, it spread out of Jerusalem, via Spain, to South America —the same route followed by my ancestors.
3. Candlemas is one of the earliest, largest and most syncretic Catholic celebrations in South America. In the Spanish Canary Islands, local people found an image of a black Virgin Mary holding a candle and a baby Jesus. ”La Candelaria“, as it is known in Spanish, soon spread into the New World, Hernán Cortés wearing a medal of the Virgin during his conquest of Cuba and Mexico. Jesuits exalted the Feast of Candlemas, allowing indigenous cultural elements to merge in order to push evangelization. Today, Candlemas permeates everywhere: from the Carnival of Candlemas in Puno, Peru (one of the three largest festivals in South America), to the ancient oral cultures known by the name of the localities in which its remains were found, such as Cultura Candelaria in Salta, Argentina. Even the image of the patron of the city where I was born, Nuestra Señora del Buen Aire, carries a candle and a baby.
4. A sin offering, a voyage, a syncretic festival of light and purification: this is my Hanukkah story. It is my own journey as an Oleh, the miracle I’m spreading.
5. Hanukkah too holds these mixtures in its heart — a battle between traditionalism and syncretism; a tension that has reemerged in the last century, this time driven by Christmas and consumer culture.
6. Hanukkah is the story of the winners, but their rule did not last long. Nowadays, most forms of Jewish life dialogue with other beliefs. I would rather write the story of the losers; to light the Menorah with parade candles, to play Al haNisim on a siku, to twist its origin to that of my own story of light and sin.
7. Hanukkah is connected to candles but also to sin in its first authorized source: the Talmud. On tractate Shabbat 22b, a dilemma is raised: is the main Hanukkah mitzvah to light the Hanukkah lamp, or is it to place it in its appropriate position? The reasoning (which, by the way, follows a strict Hellenistic logic) is supported by cases in which people, after a given choreography of actions, «lo asah veLo clum»: did not do anything in terms of fulfilling their obligation.
8. This video could have been made at that point: Mary the Jew, still impure, carrying a hint of other civilizations and a dove to purge her sin.
The video shown here is an edited performance of the original interactive piece.