An enduring influence

From the evocative black-and-white portrait that fills a wall at the entrance to his trademark voice filling the air, the spirit of Leonard Cohen is palpable throughout “Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything.”

The multifloor, multimedia exhibition dedicated to the life and legacy of the late Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and author opens April 12 and continues through Sept. 8 at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan. It’s the first stop of the touring show that originated at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). Organized by that Montreal institution, the exhibition has been curated by John Zeppetelli, director and chief curator at the MAC, and Victor Shiffman, co-curator.

WAG attended the press preview earlier this week, quickly drawn into the captivating show that integrates performances and interview segments featuring Cohen (1934-2016) in commissioned works by international artists who have been inspired by Cohen’s life, work and legacy. There are immersive experiences, ranging from Israeli artist Ari Folman’s thought-provoking “Depression Chamber” video installation – a solo experience in which you enter a darkened room, lie on a “resting platform” and get swept away by Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat,” its lyrics projected onto the walls before they turn into animated symbols – to “The Poetry Machine,” Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s interactive mixed-media installation, featuring a Wurlitzer organ that offers up Cohen’s voice reading one of his works when a key is played.

You could easily spend an entire day experiencing the exhibition in all its facets. As with “David Bowie is,” the blockbuster at the Brooklyn Museum last year, it’s clear that this ode to another compelling cultural icon will resonate with visitors throughout its run. Related programming, kicking off with a May 5 event, “In Response: Leonard Cohen,” is scheduled throughout the run of the show.

Oh, and the exhibition’s title? It’s drawn from lyrics to a Cohen song, “Anthem:”

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

For more, visit TheJewishMuseum.org.

– Mary Shustack

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