Radik Shvarts’ idea was simple enough: design your ideal plane ticket to Jerusalem and mail it to Shvarts care of a PO Box in Brooklyn.
A highlight of the 120 tickets he has received from around the world over the past year form the basis of a new exhibition, Ticket to Jerusalem, which opened last night at the JCC in Manhattan.
Not all of the 84 tickets on display are by Russian-speaking artists. But there’s a distinctly post-Soviet feel. The results range from the whimsical Chagall-esque image of a man flying towards Jerusalem, by the painter and theater designer Yevgenia Nayberg, to a hint of the Russian avant-garde in the form of the Russian word for ticket printed backwards by the Russian painter Vagrich Bakhchanyan who died at the end of last year.
Shvarts, a graphic designer who was born in Ukraine, says the idea for his mail-art project was born after he became more interested in Jewish history. “Modern man is supposed to be cosmopolitan and not attached to national roots,” Shvarts told me, as about 60 Russian-speaking New Yorkers, mainly in their twenties and thirties, chatted and sipped red wine while examining the artworks nearby.
By introducing this subject I hope to bring people closer to this idea that you can do something that can be a form of Jewish activism that can be fun and different at the same time.
Shvarts is still accepting entries for his project. Once he has about 250 tickets he intends to gather them together in a book.
The Ticket to Jerusalem exhibition runs through June.