Sunday, November 1, 2020

Cyberangels of Peace Fly from Israel Museum to Sarjah Art Foundation in UAE


American-Israeli artist Mel Alexenberg is launching cyberangels of peace on flights from Israel Museum to Sharjah Art Foundation in UAE. These digital flights of Rembrandt-inspired cyberangels honor the signing of the Abraham Accord between Israel and United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in Washington.

This historic event forging ties between Israel and its Arab neighbors occurs during the year that Rembrandt is being honored on the 350th anniversary of his death by museums from Leiden where he was born, to Amsterdam where he established his art studio, to Oxford, Madrid, Ontario, New York, and Abu Dhabi.

 Alexenberg documents the digital flights from Israel to the Emirates on this Global Tribute to Rembrandt blog. He created an artwork that shows a cyberangel of peace ascending from the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book, where the oldest Bible texts are exhibited, and entering into the Sharjah Art Foundation.

His blog also documents cyberangel flights from Israel to thirty museums on five continents that have Rembrandt-inspired artworks by Alexenberg in their collections. These images are augmented by texts on the impact of digital culture on contemporary art by the artist, former art professor at Columbia University, research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and professor at universities in Israel.

Mel Alexenberg's 2004 exhibition Cyberangels: Aesthetic Peace Plan for the Middle East at the Jewish Museum in Prague anticipated this historic event on the White House lawn. It presented aesthetic values derived from Islamic art that invites a perceptual shift through which Muslims see Israel as a blessing expressing Allah’s will rather than as an alien presence in the midst of the Islamic world. Weavers of beautiful Islamic carpets include a small counter pattern in their designs that can symbolize a Jewish state living in peace surrounded by friendly Muslim states. His blog Aesthetic Peace includes testimony from Islamic leaders on the religious validity of his concept of aesthetic peace. The photo above shows the artist explaining his aesthetic peace plan to the ambassadors of the United States and Israel at the opening of the exhibition.  

One of his Digital Homage to Rembrandt cyberangel artworks has been in Washington in the collection of The National Museum of American History since 1987 as a historic exemplar of computer-generated fine art printmaking. These cyberangels that have been dormant in the museum’s flat files have awakened in 2020 both as a tribute to Rembrandt and to the historic Abraham Accords uniting the decedents of Abraham’s two sons Isaac and Ishmael.

His cyberangel flight from Israel to the Gulf coast was preceded by Alexenberg’s cyberangel faxart flight around the globe via AT&T satellites on the 320th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death. On the morning of October 4, 1989, it ascended from New York, flew to Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam to Jerusalem to Tokyo to Los Angeles, returning to New York on the same afternoon. When it passed through Tokyo, it was already the morning of October 5th. Cyberangels cannot only fly around the globe, they can fly into tomorrow and back into yesterday. The photo above shows Mel Alexenberg in period garb receiving his Rembrandt-inspired cyberangel in his studio in Rembrandt House on its circumglobal flight.

Mel Alexenberg was invited to create one of his early Rembrandt-inspired cyberangel artworks by the Israel Museum affiliated graphics center in Jerusalem at the time he was head of the art department at Pratt Institute in New York where he taught “Fine Art with Computers.” It shows cyberangels ascending from a NASA satellite image of the Land of Israel as an expression of the biblical commentary that the angels in Jacob’s dream go up a ladder from the Land of Israel and come down to earth throughout the world. This serigraph is in the collection of the Israel Museum.

 These cyberangels emerge from a smartphone screen on the cover of Professor Alexenberg’s most recent book Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social MediaA smartphone has the power to make this biblical vision a reality. Reading his highly acclaimed book offers opportunities for Arab cousins of the Jewish people to get to know about the life and beliefs of descendants of Ishmael’s brother Isaac living today in the Land of Israel.  

Before partaking of the Sabbath eve meal, Jewish families sing, “May your coming be for peace, Angels of Peace, angels of the Exalted One.” The song begins with the words shalom aleikhem (may peace be with you). Shalom aleikhem is the traditional Hebrew greeting when people meet. It is akin to the Arabic greeting salam aleikum. Indeed, the word Islam itself is derived from the same root as salam (peace)May the Hebrew Malakh Shalom and the Arabic Malak Salam be recognized as one and the same Angel of Peace.

For further information and requests for interviews, contact Prof. Mel Alexenberg at, phone in Israel 052-855-1223, international call +972-52-855-1223

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