One of the great selling points of Hanukkah is getting presents for multiple nights, so this week we have a double dose of Four Questions! Today it’s another dynamic duo of artists who have put together an installation for 8 Nights, 8 Windows. Saul Baizman and Fish McGill collaborated on HueMenorah, an interactive photo project on display this week at Boomerangs Special Edition in the South End. As a bonus, Fish also created two of the eight Hanukkah cards offered by JewishBoston.com this year, including one especially for “Star Wars” fans.
Have you collaborated together on other projects, or is this the first time?
Saul: Fish and I met at the Dynamic Media Institute, a graduate program situated at the intersection of technology and communication design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. During graduate school, we collaborated on a couple of projects and, along with classmate Sofie Hodara, co-curated an exhibition entitled “Fresh Media” in 2013. I like working with Fish because he works really hard, possesses a number of talents in addition to his ferociously good drawing abilities, and exhibits a strong inner character. But I think we enjoy collaborating because we have a good time together!
Fish: Saul is an ideal collaborator and friend; I personally learn a ton from him, and this project was another excuse for us to work together.
Can you explain how your window will work?
Saul: The piece that we will install, HueMenorah, will be exhibited in the front window of Boomerangs Special Edition in the South End. HueMenorah features a rotating selection of portraits of Bostonians on a backdrop of a Boston cityscape. The screens are laid out in the shape of a menorah, and you can contribute your own portrait to HueMenorah by photographing yourself and publishing the photo to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #HueMenorah.
Fish: The piece is a hybrid of our styles: my handmade, personal drawing style and Saul’s participatory, systems-based approach. What we have in common is a love of Boston and deep affection for its people.
When I think of window displays, I think of the other December holiday. Is this an attempt to put a Jewish spin on a Christian, or at least Christmas, tradition?
Fish: I’m a big fan of the creativity that goes into window displays throughout the year. A couple of my inspirations for the project include my sister, Maura, who dresses windows and displays for restaurant/pawn shop Beauty & Essex in New York City, and Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum curator Emily Orr’s dissertation, “The Development of the Department Store Display.”
Saul: No, HueMenorah isn’t a response to Christmas or any Christian traditions. In spite of its form, HueMenorah is a non-sectarian, non-religious celebration of the Boston community and the multiplicity of people and voices that reside in it.
What are your Hanukkah traditions?
Saul: I don’t have many now, but when I was growing up my mother would make delicious potato latkes. My older brothers and I relished drowning them in apple sauce before vacuuming them up. We also enjoyed lighting the menorah and participating in the low-grade gambling enabled by betting that tiny orbital currency, M&Ms, on our next spin of the dreidel.
Fish: I grew up Catholic and Unitarian, so my Hanukkah traditions are limited. I did make Beastie Boys- and Pokémon-themed Hanukkah cards in high school that I sold to my friends during the holidays to pay for my college application fees, if that counts!