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When the legs are up everything is calm

Liam Ze’ev O’Connor

Exhibition dates: December 1st, 2018 - January 5th, 2018

Jerusalem stone is a name for various types of pale limestone used in building since ancient times, common in and around the city of Jerusalem —those distinctive rectangular blocks that give the Old City its ancient feel. However, the stone has become a symbol of control, visually enforcing the boundaries of the city and allowing for newly annexed neighborhoods to appear as being part of the same lineage as the historic city center, miles away. To this end, a 1968 Israeli mandate requires all new buildings in the city of Jerusalem to be faced with the stone, because, according to the city planners, it carries “'emotional messages that stimulate other sensations embedded in our collective memory.”  

This emotional message extends far beyond the city of and its surrounding suburbs. The various forms of the stone are often employed abroad in Jewish buildings as a symbol of Jewish identity. Contemporary synagogue design frequently employs Jerusalem stone to simulate the Western Wall, or to serve as a backdrop on the Bimah.

In When the legs are up everything is calm, Liam Ze’ev O’Connor presents new sculptures, reconfigured Ikea furniture coated in artificial Jerusalem stone.  Jerusalem stone has become a symbol of Jewish identity, but it is an externally facing, public identity. These sculptures explore what it means to bring that symbol into the interior of a home: The stone, intended for outside use, is reassembled and recombined with the familiar shapes of the furniture, meant for intimate, personal use. When the legs are up everything is calm attempts to construct a personal Jewish identity from the materials and symbols available within a very shallow form of Zionism and O’Connor’s own American, consumerist diaspora.

The exhibition will feature “Comfort Case: Show Within a Show,” projects by artists responding to the themes of When the legs are up, on display in the Comfort Station display case.

A menu inspired by the four quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City will be served as snacks during the reception, provided by Diaspora Dinners, a Chicago-based pop-up dinner series that explores the food and history of the Jewish Diaspora.

Liam Ze’ev O’Connor is a Chicago-based artist and educator. Liam grew up on a small suburban island near San Francisco, and received a BA from Lewis & Clark College (2012) and a MFA in Sculpture + Expanded Practice from The Ohio State University (2015). Most recently, Liam’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at H Space (Cleveland) and Hume (Chicago), as well as group exhibitions at Southern Exposure Project Space (St. Augustine), Plexus Projects (New York), Espacio Pla (Buenos Aires), and with MOTE Gallery at the Supermarket Independent Art Fair (Stockholm).