Meydad Eliyahu (born 1983, Israel) is an artist, researcher and curator who lives and works in Jerusalem.Born and raised in Mesilat Zion, a village near Jerusalem and a community of Kerala Jews community, he has been researching the history of his family since childhood. The Box of Documents, exhibited at the Kashi Gallery and a collateral project at the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016, was an alternative and personal archive which focused on the story of his family and its part in the collective narrative of the Malabar Jewish community. The project attracted much public attention and press coverage worldwide, evoking numerous responses and feedback to it from many different countries and communities. Eliyahu has exhibited his works in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, India and the United States. Meydad Eliyahu is the recipient of the Israeli Ministry of Culture Young Artist Prize (2016), Jerusalem Print Workshop grant (2012), The Shoshana Ish Shalom Prize for a work of art (2011) and The Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant, Canada (2009). He is a graduate of the Jerusalem Studio school (2008) and studied printmaking at the Jerusalem Print Workshop (2009-2010) and Japanese calligraphy and ink painting studies under Master Kazuo Ishii (2009-2011).
Thoufeek Zakriya (born 1989, India) has a multifaceted profile, as well. In 2004 at an age of 15, he began to be interested in the Hebrew language. He taught himself Hebrew and practiced Hebrew calligraphy, which put him in touch with the Jewish community of Cochin. Since 2007 he has pursued his exploration about the Jewish history of Malabar, and by 2009 he began his academic research about “Cochin Jewish Cuisine, Culture and Tradition”, successfully completed in 2011 with the help of the Elders of the Cochin Jewish Community. Then he expanded his topic . Scholars, historians, journalists, history enthusiasts and students from various universities contacted him for information on the Jews of Malabar, especially on his translations of old Hebrew epitaphs which he deciphered. In 2013 he conducted an exhibition about the Hebraica and Judaica of the Jews of Malabar, which garnered attention across the globe. He curated an exhibition “The Scribe” by creating replicas of epigraphs, epitaphs and manuscripts the belonged to the Jews of Kerala. His life as a calligrapher, historian, writer and award-winning chef is featured in a documentary film. Zakriya is also expanding his studies to the history of Muslims of Cochin, and he recently deciphered a 500-year-old Tamil inscription inside an ancient mosque in Cochin. He pursues calligraphy seriously while following his passion of historical research along with his professional and personal life.
Tanya Abraham is a native of Fort Kochi, the author of Fort Kochi, History and Untold Stories and a food book based on Kerala’s ancient trade, due to be published early next year. Working on Jewish history with the artists is, to her, the bringing alive of a past that is very closely attached to the fabric of Kochi’s society. Through art, and a public installation, she hopes to bring attention to a lost heritage. Choosing Meydad Eliyahu and Thoufeek Zakariya was deliberate, artists who have been connected to the history of the Jews in separate but strong ways, each having a story to tell. She hopes it will also shed light on the need for preservation of a very powerful and special part of India’s history.
Kashi Art Gallery supports the preservation of Kochi’s grand heritage and culture through its exhibitions.