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The handing down of intellectual or religious knowledge is a traditional form of male bonding. This painting depicts two Jewish boys on the platform at Canal Street subway stop, New York City. The green wall, the back of a newspaper kiosk, is used to compress the space in the picture and focus attention on the psychological quality of the work. Graffiti on the wall record the former presence of other city dwellers, from lovers to Nazi sympathisers. The inscribers have left their marks, which help to verify their own sense of identity. Behind the kiosk the boys are solemnly and furtively sharing a Hebrew text, also inscribed, which is a sign of their difference, a sign of their Jewishness.

September 2004