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Although centuries old, the characters in the popular Pessah tune "Had Gadya" are still very much alive in a papier mache exhibit at The Land of Israel Museum in Ramat Aviv.
"Had Gadya," a song about a parade of characters in a chain reaction of persecution, was the first children's song ever written, according to Ruth Balor Lubin, curator of the exhibit. Contributors to the exhibit chose to reinterpret the ancient song in modern terms. Each of the nine characters in the free exhibit has relevance today, representing the ideas of pleasure, luxury, aggression and lack of consideration.
The characters in the art installation, created with papier mache, iron and netting painted in lively colors, all stand close to each other. The figures threaten to hit, swallow and destroy the next in line, but don't come close enough to cause any damage, says Balor Lubin. The artists balance the destructive actions with smiles and and suggestions of playfulness. The cat which eats the goat in "Had Gadya" is polite, and the Angel of Death which kills the butcher is displayed hunting butterflies. The harmony and tolerance is not supposed to create a happy ending, Balor Lubin says, but the ambiguity gives the public a chance to decide the ending for itself.
The exhibit is the largest art installation ever created from the nine "Had Gadya" characters. Artist Rafi Beller, helped by Michael Kurs and Ofra Amit, spent almost six months creating it. Museum visitors will receive a guided tour of the exhibit, including in-depth explanations of the ancient song.
Balor Lubin, who spent months researching the song, says the exhibit will help people's understanding of it.
There will also be workshops for children, with the educational staff at the museum making paper creations based on "Had Gadya."
The exhibit is free through May at The Land of Israel Museum, located at Rehov Chaim Lebanon 2, Ramat Aviv, in Tel Aviv. For more information, call (03) 641-5244.
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