RETHINKING EXISTING RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS ON PUBLIC BUILDINGS
From YU Museum’s curator. Follow him at zcurator.tumblr.com
Today, any suggestion about placing a symbol rooted in religion on, in or in front of a public building stirs up a whirlwind of controversy. Yet, only a few decades ago, such references to the Hebrew bible in particular were common references to what was perceived as the ‘Western’ legal and cultural tradition. It would be common to see reliefs of Moses beside Socrates, Goethe, and Copernicus on a library or museum. This particular image is on the front of a courthouse in downtown Brooklyn. YU Museum’s curator offers a way to re-interpret it for today.
Have a wonderful weekend!
AND MOSES SAID, “I ORDERD THE TOFU SCRAMBLE! SEE YOU IN COURT!”
In this one of two reliefs on the facade of the court house in Brooklyn on Adams Street (adjacent to Borough Hall), moses might be seen bringing the Ten Commandments ‘down to the people.’ It is meant to allude to a conception of a western legal tradition rooted in Judeo-Christian text. Yet, inscribing such scenes on public buildings is largely taboo today because they refer to a particular religious tradition, and perhaps can be regarded as perpetuating a theistic vision cosmology.
HOWEVER, this being Brooklyn, which is perhaps the heart of the great North American brunch tradition today, and considering that we’re living in a particularly litigious moment in American culture, we might understand this image as a Moses so irate that his brunch order was screwed up, that he took the restaurant staff to court. Yeah, that makes sense.