Night Begins the Day: Rethinking Time, Space and Beauty

June 18 – September 20, 2015
Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco
A person walking in an ally in an urban setting
Image courtesy Contemporary Jewish Museum

Night Begins the Day is an international group exhibition that includes work in many mediums by twenty-five artists. In Jewish tradition, day begins at sundown, rather than dawn. This notion inspired the exhibition, which looks at alternative or contemporary ways of thinking about space, time, and beauty.

About the exhibition – Curators statement:

“In the eighteenth century, the concept of the sublime became very influential among painters and poets due to an increasing interest in the aesthetics of science. Expanding global exploration made people astutely aware of the enormous scale and splendor of the planet’s wild places, and astronomy was revealing the staggering immensity of the universe. The result was a combination of awe and fear—awe at the majesty and beauty of creation, and fear of human frailty, mortality, and insignificance in the light of the vastness of the cosmos. This response itself became a point of interest: how do we existentially resolve our psychology and spirituality with this new information?

Taking the title from the biblical concept that, “the day goes after the night,” (Genesis 1:5) at the time of creation, “Night Begins the Day” is an exhibition featuring the work of twenty-seven artists, scientists, and creative thinkers that, in this current moment of expansion through scientific development, look at three aspects of contemporary art that can be seen as emerging from the historic precedent of the sublime: technological innovation; new understandings of time; and new expressions of awe and fear that have emerged from contemporary irony and cultural critique.”

Included in the show is the IFF’s Bleached Reef, an elegaic installation of handicrafted corals, evoking through the collective work of women, the beauty of living reefs and the threats they face from global warming. Bleached Reef is created and designed by Margaret and Christine Wertheim, and includes individual crochet pieces from “core reef contributors” Marianne Midelburg (Australia), Nancy Lewis (VT), Helle Jorgensen (Australia), Sarah Simons (CA), Evelyn Hardin (TX), Arlene Mintzer (NY), Jill Schrier, (NY), Pamela Stiles (NY), Dagma Frinta (NY), Christina Simons (CA), plus miniature beaded-coral towers by Nadia Severns (NY), and vintage doilies by unknown makers.

Night Begins the Day is curated by Renny Pritikin, with associate curator Lily Siegel.

CJM exhibition website

Participating artists:

  • Peter Alexander
  • Lisa K. Blatt
  • Daniel Crooks
  • Peter Dreher
  • Moira Dryer
  • Laurent Grasso
  • David Horvitz
  • Institute for Figuring
  • Masood Kamandy
  • Robert Kooima
  • Alicja Kwade
  • Michael Light
  • The Long Now Foundation
  • Jorge Macchi and Edgardo Rudnitzky
  • Vanessa Marsh
  • Josiah McElheny
  • Klea McKenna
  • Katie Paterson
  • Fred Tomaselli
  • Christopher Woodcock

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalog with essays by the curators, along with Dodie Bellamy and Nathaniel Deutch.

Slideshow images © Institute For Figuring.