June 6, 2024

From the Archives: Ayin’s Unpublished Founding Editorial & Curatorial Statements from 2020

By Tom Haviv, Eden Pearlstein

CURATORIAL STATEMENT

Ayin Press is a place for work that critically engages and imaginatively plays with all aspects of the social, spiritual, and sensual dimensions of experience. We refer to these domains respectively as Political Imagination, Speculative Theology, and Radical Aesthetics.

Political Imagination

By Political Imagination, we mean the act of invoking and envisioning what is unseen in the service of what is seen. Stories, symbols, songs, and other artifacts of the imagination are the lifeforce of the body politic; without them we burn out, we give up, we hide until the storm passes; but it doesn’t, it never does. Without a poetics that seeks to enact the “impossible,” politics devolves into an ouroboric loop of self-fulfilling prophecy. If we fight without imagining something beyond the fight, we will become the fight and vanish within the fight. When the fight itself vanishes, we emerge: visionary messengers of a larger story.

We curate work that names new worlds, new relations, new peoples, new identities, new ideologies, new tactics. 

Speculative Theology

By Speculative Theology, we mean the impossible art of naming what cannot be named, a vanishing act revealing the fertile void that surrounds and fills us all. By definition, G/d is unknowable. All names and faces of divinity, all theologies, all cosmologies, are therefore speculative. Every expression of the infinite strives for the status of ‘secular,’ meaning ‘of a specific age or time’—as it is only in time that eternity may be known. Recognizing the face, trace, word, spirit or presence of the sacred in our daily lives is not only an existential challenge, but an urgent necessity and creative practice in and of itself.

We curate work that names, evolves, and invents rituals, prayers, practices, symbolism, hermeneutics, mitzvot.

Radical Aesthetics

By Radical Aesthetics, we mean a critical engagement with the formal elements of culture that fashion our experience and mediate our worldview. As a practice, it seeks not to add ornament or embellishment to existing frameworks, but rather to disrupt, loosen, jam, and trick those very frameworks by tapping into their sensorial roots in order to recalibrate our given contexts––or invent new cultural contexts entirely. Radical Aesthetics is the experience of experience; when artfully applied it is, in a way, the central praxis of existence: shaping reality—sensorially, socially, and spiritually. It brings us—through our perception, and that which is not perceivable—into presence, into the present, into the hum of the world.

We curate work in all mediums, especially those that engage with the aesthetics of text and the textuality of the ineffable, the unnamable—bodies, trees, stones, light, chords, consciousness. 

PUBLISHING STATEMENT

Physical

We believe in the art and practice of publishing physical books. From chapbooks to children’s books, artist’s books to anthologies, we invoke whatever traces are left of the auratic in this post-everything world through well-crafted and creatively designed publications.

At this point in history, we are all people of the book, and therefore of the scroll, stele, pen, hand, press, codex, calendar, map, sea, and stars. For better and for worse, we have been imprinted and bound by the forms of the letters and the firmament of the page. We too have spines, headers, and footnotes.  

These traits and adaptations do not simply vanish with the swipe of a touch screen. These processes of material production are woven deep within our psychic and social fabrics. Indeed, their esoteric underpinnings and imperatives still define and determine much of what we relate to as horizon. 

In spite of the hegemony of the internet, much of our world still operates as an unconscious cult of the book. For this reason, we remain dedicated to exploring the impacts and potentials of printing and distributing physical folios as we plunge deeper into the 21st century. 

Beyond physical books, Ayin designs and produces various “poetic objects,” educational opportunities, and immersive experiences.

Digital 

On our digital platform, we curate and feature creative and critical writings, digital and interactive arts, audio and visual arts, performance work, and forms that have yet to be named.

We are intrigued by digital materials that don’t disavow materiality, presence, embodiment, erotics, historical context beyond the internet, dirt, glitch, nature, the sacred, the ineffable, the imperfect, or the sense of smell.  

Our general approach to design is guided by a desire to confront the unspoken dynamics of the digital veil, as well as to change the shape of it, or even to rend it, transfiguring the mirror of the screen into a window beyond the self. 

We still believe in the capacity for immediacy inherent in the interactive ethos of the internet, as well as its ability to be an ark/hive for hard-to-define or impossible-to-sell works and perspectives that have been banished to the periphery.

COMMUNITY

Ayin is a loose-knit network of poets, artists, painters, performers, musicians, activists, archivists, educators, coders, scholars, designers, healers, and holy fools. We are most interested in works and projects that require in-depth study or reward ongoing engagement, rather than chasing after clicks or fabricating flashes in the pan. We desire collaboration and unlikely juxtaposition.

Our experience as Jews is what connects us to, not cuts us off from, the world. We believe that artists, thinkers, activists and mystics of all tribes, and of none, participate in shaping Jewish culture. We are not only interested in creating ‘Jewish art’ for Jews’ sake, but rather in cultivating conversations across borders and boundaries in order to forge ties of common interest and shared fate. We believe in a unified polyphony—within and beyond the Jewish world. 


Tom Haviv is a writer, multimedia artist, and organizer based in Brooklyn and born in Israel.
A Flag of No Nation is his debut book of poetry. He is the creator of the Hamsa Flag, a project designed to stimulate conversation about the future of Israel|Palestine, Mizrahi/Sephardi culture, and Jewish/Muslim solidarity. Tom is also the cofounder of Ayin Press and the author of two children’s books, Woven and The Porcupine Prince

Eden Pearlstein is a poet, performer, chronic collaborator, and cofounder of Ayin Press. Over the past two decades he has created an eclectic portfolio of audio, visual, textual, and curatorial works and projects. Eden is the co-author/co-editor of the chapbooks In/Flux: On Influence, Inspiration, Transmission, and Transformation; Taste and See: A Psychedelic Pesach Companion; Indwelling: An Earth-Based Sukkot Companion; and the artbook Speechless (with Cannupa Hanska Luger). He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two children.