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ICC's Read Provides Another Response to the ROM's Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition
Read by Hamra Abbas. Photo: Courtesy Green Cardamom, London.

TORONTO.- In conjunction with Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World, one of the most significant exhibitions in the history of the Royal Ontario Museum , the Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) at the ROM is offering two contemporary faith-based responses to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Created in 2007 by rising visual artist Hamra Abbas, Read makes its North American debut at the ROM following its inaugural engagement at the National Art Gallery in Islamabad. From Saturday, August 1, this installation will be displayed on the ROM’s Level 3, Centre Block until the Dead Sea Scrolls engagement closes on Sunday, January 3, 2010.

Read, a sculptural sound-based work that resembles a maze, invites visitors to explore the role of the Islamic faith in Pakistan, Abbas’ country of origin. This piece was inspired by the artist’s visits to numerous madrassahs – a building or group of buildings used for teaching Islamic theology and religious law. It was in these buildings where Abbas documented young students, both boys and girls, memorizing their sabaq (lessons).

Born in 1976, Hamra Abbas lives and works in Islamabad and Boston. She was trained initially in sculpture and miniature painting at Lahore’s National College of Arts, was an assistant lecturer at Berlin’s Universität der Künste and a visiting faculty member at Lahore’s National College of Arts. Abbas is currently an associate professor at the Rawalpindi National College of Arts and has exhibited her work widely across Europe and the United States in addition to participating in the 2006 Sydney Biennale, the 2007 International Istanbul Biennale and Toronto’s 2008 Nuit Blanche.

The other ICC art installation exploring the Dead Sea Scrolls, and running concurrently with the ROM’s exhibition, Margins is a newly commissioned work and the first Canadian exhibition by acclaimed New York-based artist Joshua Neustein. Engaging visual art in a poetic reflection on writing, religion and archaeology, Neustein’s project shapes a dialogue with the historical and cultural contexts of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Pieces within the installation reference “The Book of Margins”, an esoteric collection of fictional dialogue, prose meditation, and poetry, by prominent French thinker, philosopher, and Jewish theologian Edmond Jabès.

Joshua Neustein was born in Poland in 1940 and currently resides and works in New York. Known primarily for his environmental installations and Post Minimalist torn paper works, Neustein is also renowned for his series of large-scale map paintings. After immigrating to Israel in 1964, Neustein made a considerable impact on its local cultural scene, and is considered to be one of the founding figures of Environmental and Conceptual Art in that country. In 1995, Neustein represented Israel at the Venice Biennale. He has exhibited in museums and galleries around the world.

Royal Ontario Museum | Dead Sea Scrolls | Sydney | Biennale | Pakistan |

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