About The Bowls Project


CD cover imageThe Bowls Project is an interactive sound sculpture/immersive performance installation created by visionary composer Jewlia Eisenberg with her ensemble Charming Hostess. An ecstatic investigation into sex, magic and secret desires, The Bowls Project takes place within a stunning masterwork of ancient-meets-modern design: a double vaulted masonry dome by celebrated architect Michael Ramage, with video inscription by Shezad Dawood. The work is inspired by Babylonian Jewish women’s amulets known as “demon bowls.” It runs July 6-August 22 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. EXTENDED September 2nd – October 3rd, 2010.


The dome is a place to share a secret and listen to the anonymous secrets of others, listen to live music on Thursdays, participate in ritual on Fridays, encounter embodied text on Sundays, and dig on the apocalyptic intimate whenever YBCA is open. Come and be welcome! Get the latest date specific programming. Find out what others are saying read news and reviews about The Bowls Project.

The Dome

The Bowls Project dome is a place for individual secret-sharing, music performance with live video inscription, ritual participation and hands-on workshops. The timbrel-vaulted dome has roots in ancient Egypt, was popular in the medieval Mediterranean, was revisited by the 19th-century Catalan engineer Raphael Guastavino, and is now revolutionized by architect Michael Ramage.  Michael’s specialty is using ancient techniques with new materials.  Our dome is ultra-light and ultra-strong, low-tech and lovely, elegant and timeless.  Michael won a Building of the Year award winner at the 2009 World Architecture Festival for his dome work in Mapungubwe, South Africa. He is currently based at Cambridge University in the UK, but will be in residence in SF for a month supervising the Bowls Project dome build. Construction will be done by Charming Hostess and a host of community volunteers, come by and check it out!

Ancient BowlSource Material

The Bowls Project is inspired by texts drawn from Babylonian demon bowls, amulets common from 300-700 CE in the area now known as Iraq.
Demon bowls, or incantation bowls, were inscribed with a householder’s secrets and desires and then buried under the doorway to protect her home. Demon bowl inscriptions are about “secrets of the home”: love and sensuality; angels and demons; and the trials and joys of daily life. Especially audible in these texts are the individual voices of women from this period: their sexuality, work, hopes, and dreams. These spiraled Aramaic inscriptions are among the few existing records of female voices during the time and place of the Babylonian Talmud.  Jewlia researched these bowls for four years.  She read hundreds of incantation bowls, and ended up setting her favorites. She was pleased to discover
the points of similarity between the amulet texts, more recent Babylonian Jewish devotional text, and American apocalyptic musical visions.

The bowls inhabit the world of the “apocalyptic intimate”–a spirit-rich environment where the vast supernatural realm intersects the tiny domestic sphere. They explore domestic secrets in unexpected ways, suggesting a spirit-rich world that is strange and inspiring.