Ezra Benus is an artist, educator, and curator born and raised in NYC (Brooklyn and the Bronx). His practice is cradled by embedded Jewishness, queerness, and sickness as purviews and navigational tools in this world. His work is steeped in rituals of living with chronic illness, and in the implications of a medicalized embodiment and personal identification and social reality of disability. His multi-media practice concerns the relationships, erotics, and intimacies of power, care, pain, and pleasure, and questions the constructions of time related to values of normativity and productivity. Benus’ extensive collaborative practice, notably the sibling collaboration of Brothers Sick (with Noah Benus), explores how the concept of the disabled self collides with social surroundings and investigates the collective politics of illness and care, connecting and highlighting the legacies and histories of eugenics to contemporary presentations of ableism.
Featured Image: #4, Brothers Sick, for the world eternal / ועד לעולם
2022. Digital Print, dimensions variable, courtesy of the artists. The image features one arm wrapped and bound with an intravenous medication and the other arm is wrapped and bound with Tefillin, Jewish ritual object of black leather straps that contain prayers written on parchment hidden in a box located on the bicep, worn during morning prayers as an act of boundness with the sublime. In the center of the image is a black triangle, referencing the badge designating sick, disabled, Roma, Sinti, and other people deemed by Nazis as asocial or not fit for work, a history intertwining eugenics, ableism, anti-semitism. Two Hebrew words form the phrase [l’olam va’ed] that translates as ‘forever and ever.’ The phrase is excerpted from the recitation from a morning prayer, that connects to the idea of the oneness and eternal connection of the individual with the sublime.