Issue #9

  1. Introducing SITRA ACHRA

  2. Talmudic War Machine & A Shadow’s Dream

  3. Bruise Garden

  4. Mascha Kaléko: The Poet, The Stream

  5. Deli on the Move

  6. Bad Butcher

  7. Over or Under

  8. Remove/Release

  9. Renew Our Days

  10. Our Boys: A Travelogue

  11. Vitraji Vulgarum

  12. “Seeing is Not Enough”

  13. Cross-Pollination

  14. Theremin and the Touchless Touch

Deli on the Move

Zoe Kurland

A waitress holding a pastrami sandwich passes in front jewish deli-case, lit in cool refrigerator tones. A faceless, yarmulke-wearing child peers upon the goods: rows of noses and sharks, and chickens hanging beside garlands of garlic, cheese wedges and raw T-bone steaks. In the center, a red, hog-tied woman with an apple between her teeth looks out from the case. She heads up a row of pigs, all similarly bound with rope. Beside her are pinwheels of sausage, one of which has a human head, one of which is a snake. Green circumcised phalluses spill out of pickle jars in the back of the case in front of the torsos of butchers wearing blood-stained aprons behind the counter.
Rosabel Rosalind, Fresh Meat (Counter Culture), Oil and acrylic on canvas, 6.5 x 11′, 2020
In a world awash in pink, orange, red and yellow tones, a car sits on a packed freeway, bumper to bumper with endless pale pink vehicles, all of which are headed towards a burning mountain in the distance. The Hollywood sign, made of sausage, sits on a hillside to the left of the freeway. The driver’s hands grip a fuzzy steering wheel, and their eyes, which have sausages instead of pupils, are reflected in the rearview mirror, from which a sausage dangles. A small red Venus figurine, a sausage draped around her neck, stands on the dashboard, her arms behind her head.
Rosabel Rosalind, Rush Hour (Over the Hill), Oil on canvas, 32 x 40″, 2021

There is a certain regal grossness to a Jewish deli case. Teeming with pungent delights, it looks something like a fluorescent Eden, its glass walls packed with kosher meats, pastries, smoked fish, and salad plops. The goods in a Jewish deli case look, frankly, corporeal — salamis corseted in twine netting, pink piles of limb-like kishka, the wart-ridden skins of kosher dills — so it’s not hard to see where Rosabel Rosalind gleaned the inspiration for her painting, Fresh Meat (Counter Culture) (2020), on display in her studio at Carnegie Mellon. Rosabel swaps out the usual deli fare for an imposing feast of antisemitic iconography and allusion: sharks stand in for loan sharks, sausages curl into serpents, hooked noses sit among the cheeses as circumcised scrota pickle in jars. A self-portrait of the artist pulls our focus to the center: with a Jude tag on her ear and an apple between her teeth, she looks like some version of Eve, her body bound and at the mercy of the sinewy blue hand of God, outstretched to purchase and pluck her from her perverted paradise. 

While on a Fulbright scholarship in Vienna to study antisemitic propaganda, Rosabel noticed a theme: Jewish people were almost always represented as non-kosher creatures— pigs, rats, snakes and insects— and as such, in Fresh Meat, nothing is kosher. A faceless yarmulke-clad deli customer looks into the case, their reflection juxtaposed upon the propaganda-fest. One must wonder if they feel any kind of familiarity, or even identification. Mingling propaganda with self-portraiture, the question Rosabel’s work seems to ask is one of reclamation: what happens if you see yourself reflected in what’s meant to be used against you? 

Somewhere in the same meaty universe, Rush Hour (Over The Hill) (2021), also on display at Carnegie Mellon, depicts a figure trapped on a Los Angeles freeway driving towards a distant blaze, the Hollywood sign spelled out in sausage. We can’t see the driver in full, but their eyes resemble those of Eve in Fresh Meat, wide and fixed beside a narrow nose-bridge. The glass windshield is akin to the glass front of the deli-case, so I can’t help but imagine this work as Fresh Meat on the move. The hot sherbet sky recalls this past summer’s wildfires, the orange haze that rose over California as flames crisped the state’s touchstones — its blue skies, redwoods, and brush-laden mountains — to apocalyptic props, cinematic nightmares straight out of Blade Runner. This imagery plays on conspiracy theories old and new: Jewish control of Hollywood and the recent claim from QAnon faithfuls that the California wildfires were an act of arson via Jewish space lasers. 

Of all the deli’s items, Rosabel fixates on the sausage, a mix of parts ground up and shoved back together into an intestine that both orders and conceals the messy nature of what lies within. The sausage is a subversion of the body, a defiance against any kind of human form; this notably makes it immune to propaganda, for it’s difficult to exaggerate something shapeless and inhuman to begin with. The sausage both embraces the wares of the deli and shields them from objectification; in some ways, it seems similar to modern Jewish identities—an amalgamation of history, legend, and trauma piped into new casings, new generations postponing the decay of history. Hanging from the mirror, the sausage seems both a protective talisman and a key to the city. Here, Hollywood is the home of the sausages; Eve’s been granted entry in, only to find herself trapped in traffic, headed towards certain barbecue.

Zoe Kurland is a journalist based in Texas. Her work has appeared in The Cut, The New York Times, Bright Wall/Dark Room, and more. 

Rosabel Rosalind Kurth-Sofer was born in 1996 in Los Angeles, California. In 2017, she received her BFA in printmaking, painting, and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Rosabel has been included in group exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center, and Sullivan Gallery in Chicago. In 2018, Rosabel was a recipient of a Fulbright Austria Combined Grant, where she did research at the Jewish Museum Vienna in their Schlaff Collection of anti-Semitic objects and postcards. As a result of this work, Rosabel has exhibited in solo exhibitions at Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier and Improper Walls Gallery. Rosabel is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University.