Leor Grady studied Jewish musar literature in order to trace how moralistic values and teachings have metamorphosed into popular culture. He translated these aspects into visual expressions by reconfiguring their relation to body and time. His project, then, deals with the re-embodiment of the textual and the theological. This investigation is a continuation of his research into various forms of intimate knowledge and wisdom, as well as traditional Jewish visual culture that develops these materials into a new body of work.
In particular, he studied the various visual forms of Baḥya ibn Paquda’s The Duties of the Hearts (Ḥovot ha-Levavot) and similar musar traditions that emerged in the Judeo-Arabic context—including illuminated manuscripts and printed books—focusing on how the various material manifestations of the text convey different qualities. On-site research in libraries and archival collections dedicated to the examination of the objects were going to be at the core of developing his work. Perceiving books as enormously charged objects, the performance of reading is considered an action that connects body, intellect, and soul. We read printed materials, touching, or holding them, the paper carrying the stamp of our bodily existence. This is where the inanimate ink, as well as the paper or parchment, form a direct link to the body—to language (the mouth), accent (sound and ear) and perception (eyes).