He looks like a person, but he’s mute and his eyes are empty. The golem is a character from Jewish mysticism, an avatar that powerful people create out of clay. They tell him what to do and he follows their orders.
The golem pops up in lots of movies as a science fiction motif, for instance in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”. “The golem is a reoccurring presence in science fiction movies and series”, states Martina Lüdicke, curator of the GOLEM exhibition at the Jewish Museum Berlin.
Lüdicke, Aviv and Eden want to incorporate science fiction concepts into reality. “For our exhibition we asked ourselves: how do we make the golem relevant for today’s audiences?” Lüdicke explains. The Jewish Museum used the following approach: a white baseball cap with the Trump slogan “Make America Great Again” was exhibited in a display case. Does that mean that Trump is a golem that will be unleashed in the future? It was up to the visitors to speculate on the answer.
Although golems aren’t human, but only humanlike creatures, they can still mirror the picture of society. “For a long time, golems were the reflection of a white, male society. Today, however, golems can be feminist, queer or shocking and help question societal relations,” said Eden Kupermintz. Golems thereby have a huge potential, but can also become dangerous. People curating science fiction exhibitions or festivals also decide what image the public gets of science fiction through the selection of the featured content.