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He ainít heavy, heís my brother
David and Dan Akiba at the Starr, Alexis Rockman at the Addison, and students at the SMFA
BY RANDI HOPKINS

The black-and-white photographs are haunting in that way that ordinary things can be haunting: two boys on their front stoop, or building a fort in their living room, or goofing around with funny hairdos in their bathroom. But these family photographs, taken by David Akiba over the past 20 years, tell a bittersweet story. Better known for his landscape and experimental photography, David Akibaís "Through the Lens: A Separate Journey," on view at the Starr Gallery at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center through April 17, is a diary ó in hand-captioned photographs ó of the religious transformation of the photographerís son Jonah, who grew up in a secular environment in Boston and was so emotionally close to his older brother, Dan, that the two were often mistaken for best friends rather than siblings. Then Jonah joined an ultra-Orthodox sect in Israel, where he chose to marry and stay, altering his relationships with his father and brother.

Dan Akibaís point of view is represented here too, in an accompanying documentary film. "My Brotherís Wedding" is a 36-minute record of Jonahís Hassidic wedding that Dan, then a film student at New Yorkís City College, made on a hand-held camera, and itís a moving portrayal of the familyís struggle to understand, and their painful isolation and alienation from, Jonahís new life and community. The film, which was shown as part of the 2003 Boston Jewish Film Festival and has also been seen at Jewish film festivals in Toronto, Atlanta, and Austin, will be the subject of a special viewing and panel discussion co-presented by the Boston Jewish Film Festival at the Starr Gallery on March 16 at 6:30 p.m.

If fractures within a family can create a terrible personal apocalypse, consider the natural havoc our wanton ways with the environment seem certain to wreak on a grand public scale. Alexis Rockmanís 24-foot mural Manifest Destiny depicts a fantastical, science-fictional vision of a future Brooklyn devastated by global warming. In this work, which opens to the public at the Addison Gallery of American Art on March 12, Rockman draws on real science and pure imagination to portray Brooklyn circa AD 5000 as a vast flood plain, with familiar landmarks submerged beneath water and a habitat teeming with mutant aquatic plants and animals. He evokes the great tradition of American landscape painting with a wicked, cautionary twist.

Throwing caution to the winds, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts throws open its doors to work by current students in its "Student Annual Exhibition," which is up through March 12. This juried exhibition includes state-of-the-art abstraction by Reese Inman, whose Cellmatrix II brings digital information to gestural painting, as well as humor, as in a sculpture by Helga Selleisen called The Clutch thatís a handbag made of chewing gum and aluminum mesh with a rhinestone on the front. The gallery talk on March 10 will afford an opportunity to learn what these up-and-comers are thinking about.

"Through the Lens: A Separate Journey" is at the Starr Gallery at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, 333 Nahanton Street in Newton, through April 17, with a special film viewing and panel discussion on March 16 at 7:30 p.m.; call (617) 558-6480 extension 483. "Alexis Rockman: Manifest Destiny" is at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy in Andover, March 12 through June 5; call (978) 749-4015. "Student Annual Exhibition" is at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, 230 the Fenway in Boston, through March 12, with a gallery talk on March 10 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; call (617) 369-3718.


Issue Date: March 4 - 10, 2005
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