Golem Lives with Karla Diaz

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Golem Lives

The haudenschild Garage collaborated with artists-writers, and who were invited to participate in the 2007 Prague Biennale (http://www.praguebiennale.org). Golem Lives, their resulting Garage Project, was shaped by both Mario and Karla’s love for interaction and experience as they set out to find the famous Golem of Prague. The first part of this project consisted of a mural that was painted at the biennale and the second part was a web-journal sent to the Garage that gave daily details of their experience, interviews, and photos.

Why Golem?
I am interested in the idea of myth vs. truth and how stories are told. Golem is an interesting character that resembles the American Frankenstein. But it is also an interesting character that exists in the imagination of people and in anecdotes found in Jewish folklore.

I have several questions:
How are stories told through art?
How do stories impact histories/people and culture?
What is truth?
What kind of stories are currently told about Golem?
Is Golem a metaphor for something else?

A bit of history
According to legend, “The word golem comes from the Hebrew word gelem, meaning raw material. The Golem is outwardly a real person, yet he lacks the human dimension of personality and intellect. Life is interjected into him through a mystical process using God’s special name. He is created from the ground, as was the first man. When his mission is over, the name of God is removed from him and he returns to the ground. The Golem is a very popular figure in Jewish folklore and legend. The Golem is a manlike creature that is created by use of mystical powers that are to be found in the Kabbalistic lore.The history of the Golem goes back in recorded history to the time of the Talmud, which mentions several instances of Rabbis creating a manlike creature and using him to conduct errands.

The most famous Golem is the Golem of Rabbi Yehuda Leow, the famous Maharal of Prague, who created a Golem and after using him to prevent a blood libel, hid him in the attic of the famed synagogue of Prague. Legend has it that the Golem is still hidden somewhere in the synagogue which still stands, having escaped miraculously the destruction of the Nazis. A statue of the golem stands at the entrance to the former Jewish area in Prague.

— Karla Diaz

About Karla Diaz & Mario Ybarra Jr.
Karla Diaz is a poet, performer, and art critic. She received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts and has read her work and exhibited projects in venues throughout Southern California including the Getty Art Museum, REDCAT, the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, Hunter College N.Y., and the Serpentine Gallery in London. She writes for several art magazines including Beautiful Decay, FlashArt and the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. She is a founding member of Slanguage (www.slanguagestudio.com) , an artists’ collective in Wilmington, and co-director for the New Chinatown Barbershop gallery.

Mario Ybarra Jr. lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from the University of California, Irvine and is a founding member of the artist?s collective Slanguage. His work has been featured in a number of institutional exhibitions, recently including Alien Nation at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, Uncertain States of America, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, and the 2006 California Biennial, at the Orange County Museum of Art. In 2007, he will participate in The World as a Stage, curated by Jessica Morgan at the Tate Modern, London.