“Bitzalel Friedemann'' was one of two performance works created for The Sheldon Museum’s “The Naked Museum” exhibition in 2013. Bitzalel (my actual Hebrew name) was styled as a stereotypical chasidic Jew complete with beard and long pais curls. The performance featured myself as Bitzalel leading a docent tour of the museum on the traditional Friday evening Sabbath and working in dialogue with the audience, beginning with an introduction stating the intentions of the Jews of the world is to move to Lincoln, NE and rent the Sheldon “temple.” After leading the tour and performing the ceremonial kiddish, the audience was able to follow me back to an empty gallery that served as my home. Inside, the character of Bitzalel was shed and Charley was met by Nancy and Nina—my wife and daughter—surrounded by our furniture and we talking about how the performance went. The audience was then invited to join our family for food, drinks, and dance. This piece explores the various layers of my identity as a Jewish man transplanted to middle America and my feelings of otherness. Additionally the performance sought to break down the walls between performer and audience to achieve a real dialogue between all parties.
charley friedman, copyright