Homa Taj
Homa Taj’s Observations on Art and Culture

Homa Taj's MuseumViews

How @BarbraStreisand Inspired Me to Become a Scholar, & to Recover

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Barbra Streisand by Lawrence Schiller, c. 1960's, Courtesy Galerie f5,6 (Munich)

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When my family immigrated to the United States c. 1983, I was a freshman in high school – Smithtown High School West, on Long Island, NY to be exact. Whilst struggling to learn English, I came upon the then-recently released YENTL & grew completely obsessed with it. Having come from a third-world country in the Middle East (Iran) I was mesmerized by the idea of a woman becoming a scholar! I must have watched that movie dozens of times. YENTL inspired me to become a scholar – I ended up pursuing FIVE university degrees. Ouch! My experiences at academia may be described in two words: utter misery. However, I continue to adore Barbra Streisand … & will never hold her responsible for a decade & a half of grievances.
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If that ain’t love then I don’t know what is!

In fact, Streisand has continued to serve as a model of a fiercely independent, highly spirited & … marvelously talented American woman to whom I shall continue to look up (& adore). In YENTL, Streisand plays Yentl Mendel, a Jewish girl who disguises herself as a boy to enter religious training. I was an American woman – born in a Middle Eastern country – who entered the perversely sexist & elitist field of (so-called) Fine Arts Studies in the Old Boys Club of academia & museums.
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DO some consider this (self-)comparison somewhat of a stretch? DO I care?
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* This year marks the 40th Anniversary Chaplin Award Gala at the Lincoln Center which honors the divine Barbra Streisand. The annual Chaplin Award Gala is the Film Society’s major fundraising event which helps to support the organization’s ongoing work in education, artist development, and cross-cultural film outreach. This year’s event is scheduled to take place tonight, and a limited number of Partial View tickets will be available at Avery Fisher Hall on Monday evening. A line will form in the lobby beginning at 6:30 PM.

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