Enter any exhibition on love and sexuality and you step into a world of possibilities. After all, the theme accompanies much of human history and culture. Including Judaism and Jewish history, as the Love me Kosher exhibition at the Jewish Museum reveals.
- Intriguing exploration of various topics with a chronological thread
- Runs from orthodox religious teachings to LGBTQIA+ themes
- Tackles darker and “controversial” issues, too
- Includes many contemporary art works (Chagall, Picasso & others)
- Runs Jun 22 – Nov 13, 2022
- See also:
Partnerships and sexuality
(Kibbutz club; press photo © Gregor Hofbauer)
The Jewish Museum skillfully presents a coherent yet diverse exhibition that examines sexuality and love in Judaism from a variety of perspectives.
Love me Kosher takes us from the Torah through to attitudes to LGBTQIA+ in modern Jewish society. From 18th century marriage contracts to an interview with Dr. Ruth Westheimer.
A set of themed areas forms a chronological thread with a strong Viennese flavour that allows excursions into all sorts of stimulating topics. And all laced with contemporary art from such names as Chagall, Picasso, Arik Brauer, Hundertwasser, André Heller, Andy Warhol, and Eva Schlegl.
The result is an intertwining of art, history, culture and religion that educates, informs, and intrigues. And, perhaps most importantly, clears up misconceptions and myths around the topic of love, sex, partnership, and sexuality in the context of Judaism.
So we begin, for example, with the discussion of love and sexuality in formal teachings and religious texts.
The importance of both and, for example, the requirement for a husband to ensure the pleasure of his spouse might surprise some unfamiliar with Judaism. A series of video Q&As with rabbis on relevant topics helps clarify positions.
We also delve into the history of the Jewish communities in Vienna pre-1938. This covers everything from wedding rituals and a gorgeous gold-embossed engagement contract from 1910 to insights into the Jewish contribution to the growth of sexuality in the arts, theatre and film in the 1920s.
Not to mention Vienna’s position as the leading centre of sexual science in the interwar years (Freud!).
Another theme explores LGBTQIA+ relationships in modern Judaism. The exhibition does not shy away from darker or controversial issues: here, for example, we learn of the divergence in attitudes toward male homosexuality between strict orthodox and more liberal Jewish communities.
(Andy Warhol, Ten Portraits of Jews of The Twentieth Century – Sigmund Freud, 1980; press photo © Jüdisches Museum Wien)
These darker themes also include exploitation of women and aspects of anti-semitism in Vienna, where the far right used Jewish participation in more liberal attitudes to sexuality as justification for anti-semitic attacks.
Any sexuality that failed to conform to Nazi norms could mean a death sentence during the Holocaust. And the horrors of the concentration camp had far-reaching consequences for fertility and sexual expression post-WWII in survivors.
And yet love also reveals itself as a source of hope for surviving those same horrors.
Despite the wide-ranging themes, perhaps that is the pervasive message: the joy (in the widest sense) of sex and partnership.
Tickets, dates & tips
Explore love and sexuality in its many facets between June 22nd and November 13th, 2022. A ticket to the Jewish Museum includes both its city centre locations and all exhibitions.
(Booking service provided by Tiqets.com*, who I am an affiliate of)
When there, be sure to pop into the adjoining one-room exhibition on Stefan Edlis (until October 2nd), which includes one of the more controversial (and valuable) pieces of contemporary art of recent times.
For more on Freud’s contributions to our understanding of sexuality, consider a visit to Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Museum.
How to get there
Love me Kosher occupies the main exhibition space on the first floor of the Dorotheergasse site of the Jewish Museum: look for the travel tips on the main museum article.
Address: Dorotheergasse 11, 1010 Vienna