Culture Lab: Margin

September 13 & 20, 2014

About the Exhibition
Culture Lab: Margin was an interactive art installation created by a group of five artists working in various disciplines, including choreography, sculpture and installation, storytelling and visual art, selected from a peer-nominated pool. Together they collaborated on an exploration of the margin and the way it informs Jewish identity and experience.

View photos of the project here.

A version of Culture Lab: Margin was re-exhibited at Hebrew Union College in April, 2015.

About the artists

Josh Friedman holds an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. His works on paper and sculptures have been included in gallery and museum exhibitions in the United States, Korea, and Japan. He took part in the Matzo Files, a flat file exhibition of artists’ works located in Streit’s Matzah Company on New York’s Lower East Side. His work has also been written about in Blaze: Discourse on Art, Women, and Feminism, published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Friedman maintains his creative practice and teaches in Los Angeles, California.


Rebecca Pappas has been making work under the name Pappas and Dancers since 2002. She imagines the process of choreography as one of "world creation," and sees each dance as a singular universe with its own language and logic. She and her performers have presented work throughout the West Coast at venues including ODC Theater, REDCAT, Artists Repertory Theater in Portland and the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. They have also performed Monster, their 2009 work probing the disfiguring legacy of the Holocaust, in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Estonia, and Singapore. Monster is reflective of Pappas’ ongoing interest in the body as a personal and social archive. In addition to choreographing her own work, Rebecca has performed for artists including Barak Marshall, Victoria Marks, Alma Esperanza Cunningham, Rachael Lincoln, and Erica Shuch. Pappas and Dancers has received choreographic residencies at Yaddo, Dragon’s Egg, Djerassi, and UCLA’s Hothouse, as well as funding from the Clorox Company Foundation, the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and the UCLA/Mellon Initiative for Research on the Holocaust in American and World Culture. Rebecca is a recipient of the 2013 CHIME grant, and an Adjunct Professor of Dance at Pasadena City College.


Eli Rarey is a filmmaker who focuses on issues around gender, sexuality, and identity. He frequently uses music and dance in his work, as well as non-traditional camera formats and experimental cinematic forms. He also performs as a storyteller and his films consistently engage with narrative, not only telling stories but examining the way stories get told, both mobilizing and interrogating the force of myth and narrative.His first feature, THE FAMOUS JOE PROJECT, was released internationally on iTunes this year.


Kristen Smiarowski’s choreographic projects investigate the relationship between performance and cultural memory. Her work has been performed nationally and internationally, and she has received awards and commissions from The Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists, Durfee Foundation, Puffin Foundation West, Music Center Education Division, Skirball Cultural Center, The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts, and The Wooden Floor (formerly Saint Joseph Ballet), among others. Kristen’s most recent work, titled Sleep, Staring, Well, a site-adaptive, multimedia performance event and installation about the construction of cultural memory, premiered at Automata in 2014. Kristen’s work was written about in Dancing Jewish: Jewish Identity in American Modern and Postmodern Dance (Rebecca Rossen, Oxford University Press). Groundswell, her environmental performance at Los Angeles’ Ballona Freshwater Marsh, was presented in the 2011 World Festival of Sacred Music. She holds an MFA in dance from UCLA.


Joanne Tolkoff is an artist, graphic designer, videographer and producer. Technology has played a critical role in her work, starting out initially with luminous painting and continuing on with kinetic found art sculpture and computer graphics. Her search for identity, whether through art, work or religion, is the foundation for an ongoing inquiry into questions raised by philosophy, science, dreams, and myth. Each piece is formed through multiple drawings built up over time and manipulated in the computer to become multilayered visual maps of existential experience. Additionally, she tries to find a balance through humor to help shift the perspective and mirror ordinary experience. For the last three years, Tolkoff has been exploring the search for wholeness and unity as expressed through the underlying symbols and mysteries embedded in the Jewish calendar.