Jerusalem is known for its historical and religious sites for the three major religions, but what it isn't known for is its lively art scene, Sure, religion is a big part of the city’s identity, and on occasion there are moments of tension, but for the most part people usually live, and religion isn’t the only focus of the city, Jerusalem’s population is as multicultural as you will find in any global city. Culture plays a significant role in Jerusalem’s heritage, as proven by its thriving art scene and not to forget that one of the world's most prestigious art Bezalel Academy of Art and Design located there in Jerusalem.
BY: CRC AMBASSADOR MOHA ALSHAWAMREH
Together with around 25 bright, creative and artistic minds from EMIS we went on an amazing art trip to Jerusalem, the moment I got on the bus, all I saw was exhausted, sleepy students who didn’t sleep well and had to wake up early in the morning for the trip, but that suddenly changed the moment we arrived in Jerusalem, eyes popped out, energy and smiles everywhere, and the students start sketching their way through every exhibition we went. Started the day is lost in the beautiful, narrow streets and alleys of Jerusalem that are filled with shops, and old houses until we arrived at the first exhibition “Brothers of Light” which is a crew of two Jerusalem based artists (and brothers), Gab and Elna, growing up, they became involved in the skate scene and were exposed to the diversity of Jerusalem's streets, which influences their iconography until today. Among unique characters, half way between ducks and men, fantasies and symbols that appear to be derived from ancient civilizations such as Egyptian or Oriental Taste, their creative world serves to escape reality, even the hardest and saddest. In our world, where mechanisms and apathy prevail, the brothers try to present a parallel utopian dimension in which both peace and tranquility coexist - through the use of clean lines, oriental elements and optimistic colors.
The second exhibition is Sea Stains at the Dwek gallery by Sigalit Landau. Whom rising fame seems to be based on her brilliance in transforming a creative stream of consciousness into works of art, what came to my mind, she has always been trying to create bridges through her artwork, one example is her ambitious bridge linking the Israeli and Jordanian shores of the Dead Sea. The planned border crossing is to be paved and adorned with crystals mined from the mineral-rich sea. Her work is a bridge maker where she was always looking for new and vital materials to connect the past. To the future; the west to the east; the private with the collective; the sub-existential to the Uber-profound. The exhibition includes several series of colorful drawings and two videos. The abstract and figurative drawings were created over two decades, The language of the pictures ranges from geometric, expressive and lyrical works, mostly in watercolors to more narrative and allegorical sketches and the exhibition offers a novel, fresh and intimate look at Sigalit Landau’s extensive work and enables us to trace her artistic and personal processes of thought.. We haven’t met Sigalit, but we were lucky enough that day to have heard from Hanna Lifshitz about Landau’s work, her history, and artwork in the gallery.
After having a break, eating and sharing food together in the beautiful alleys of Mishkenot Sha'ananim neighborhood, we went along to the next stop which was the Art Cube Artists' studios, which was a place that was founded by the Jerusalem foundation with the goal of encouraging and promoting art in Jerusalem, we heard from few Jerusalem based artists who have their studios there, one was Alon Kedem who was telling us that his paintings are trying to primarily engage with the question of how you perceive and construct reality, and we ended it with a look at the Grand Kenyon which is a joint exhibition of Ronit Porat and Guy Königstein developed out of their common interest in the biography and research of Kathleen M. Kenyon, a British archaeologist who worked in the West Bank and Jordan in the 1950s and 1960s.
After that we ended the trip with a tour inside Israel Museum, which was huge, The Israel Museum is the most significant cultural institution in Israel and is ranked among the world's leading art and archaeology museums. We had a guided tour for two hours in which we had the opportunity to explore and learn about some of the different exhibitions, one is Veiled Women of the Holy Land which examines the current similarities and differences between over-coverings among pious Jewish, Muslim, Druze, and Christian women in Israel, I felt that the exhibition is more an invitation to break down the barrier of prejudice that surrounds those women. Another exhibit is Manifesto by Julian Rosefeldt, which is a thirteen-part film installation, produced by film and video artist Julian Rosefeldt and starring Cate Blanchett, the work, pays homage to the moving tradition and literary beauty of 20th-century artist manifestos, ultimately questioning the role of the artist in society today.
The students had one hour to complete their homework and sketch anything of their choice inside the museum. I had the chance to speak to some of the students who, despite their young age, showed to have quite creative, mature minds and leadership characteristics. Choosing an Art major comes with a risk, and maybe opposition from the parents and even the art teachers, but they understood the risks and wanted to pursue an artistic career also if it meant to undertake two majors at the same time. They may be young by age, but risk tolerance and leaders in mentality.
Like the city itself, the Jerusalem art scene is defined by extremes. On the one hand, it hosts some of the most established artistic and cultural institutions in Israel. On the other, it frequently fosters experimental, progressive, and somewhat off-center art-making; but between these two realities, there seems to be something of a void. I was amazed by what I saw on that trip, but I believe conditions for artists could be improved, Jerusalem is a global city and should foster and help those ambitious young artists so they would want to remain in the city. The Jerusalem Foundation, the primary sponsor and promoter of cultural events and institutions in the city, is doing a great job, but it could be improved. After all, it’s Jerusalem, and it should be inclusive for all its citizens.