About the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world.
The Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2015, with a year-long program devoted to an exploration of Israel’s aesthetic culture in the 50 years before and after its founding
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New Work by Leading Contemporary Israeli Artists Unveiled at Israel Museum in Honor of 50th Anniversary Year
6 Artists, 6 Projects Features Photography, Sculpture, and Installation by Uri Gershuni, Roi Kuper, Dana Levy, Tamir Lichtenberg, Ido Michaeli, and Gilad Ratman
Jerusalem (February 2, 2015) - Inaugurating the Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations is a special exhibition featuring the diversity of creative practice in Israeli art today. On view from February 10 through August 29, 2015, 6 Artists, 6 Projects embraces genres from photography to installation and features a roster of internationally recognized artists from Israel, including Uri Gershuni, Roi Kuper, Dana Levy, Tamir Lichtenberg, Ido Michaeli, and Gilad Ratman. Their works capture snapshots of the rich spectrum of artistic perspectives emerging from Israel’s flourishing contemporary art scene and explore themes ranging from personal and collective histories, to power and economic structures.
6 Artists, 6 Projects extends the Museum’s engagement with contemporary aesthetic expression from the time of the Museum’s opening fifty years ago and offers a counterpoint to 1965 Today (March 31 – August 29, 2015), which immerses visitors in the visual character of Israel in 1965, the year of the Museum’s founding.
“This exhibition continues the Israel Museum’s fifty year tradition of supporting the art of the ‘now’, positioning works by some of the most engaging artists in Israel today within the timeline of world culture featured throughout our universal holdings,” said James S. Snyder, the Museum’s Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “Although common practice today in museums worldwide, presenting contemporary art in an encyclopedic museum setting was a pioneering concept in 1965. The Museum’s 50th anniversary this year offers an opportunity for reflecting on the continuing evolution of the arts in Israel, and, in this display, specifically through the lens of six thought-provoking artists whose works stand out both in concept and in their unique use of materials and mediums.”
The six featured artists and projects include the following:
• Uri Gershuni’s The Blue Hour (2014) continues the artist’s ongoing exploration of the life and work of 19th-century British inventor of photography Sir William Henry Fox Talbot. What started as a photographic journey to Lacock Abbey—Talbot’s former compound in England—evolved into another exploration of the location, this time a virtual one, through Google Street View. Using early photographic techniques to manipulate screen-shots of the site, Gershuni creates haunting pictures that prompt questions about the differences between the material conditions of painting and photography, and between visual histories of the West and the present state of local contemporary art. This project extends Gershuni’s continuing examination of contemporary photography in the context of its history and the abstraction that occurs throughout the photographic process.
• Roi Kuper offers an unusual perspective on Israel’s southern border with Gaza Dream (2014), for which the artist composed photographic panoramas of Gaza Strip from all directions. In his signature style, Kuper captures images of plowed fields, pale blue skies, and the dusty, pinkish-gray horizon of the distant city, as landscapes that are both familiar and foreign. Taken from the border, these photographic views from afar resonate with how public opinion and public consciousness envision Gaza and reveal some of the region’s recent, tumultuous history. This series builds on Kuper’s practice of creating philosophical and existentially charged photographic works that resonate with Israel’s political landscape and national identity.
• Dana Levy’s Literature of Storms (2014) is a video installation embedded with a collage of imagery linking disparate times and places. In this work, Levy projects internet-found footage of Hurricane Sandy onto original 1920s interior design magazine pages. By superimposing references to a North American storm over symbols of European modernist ideals—which Levy associates with the background of Zionism and the development of young Israel—the artist grapples with the environmental and political aftermath of local and global “progress.” This critical approach is complimented by another, large video-art piece, in which Levy samples sounds of recent oil drilling technologies over phosphoric close-ups of shrubbery in the endangered Everglades National Park in Florida. Levy is known for her work in video, video installation, and photography, through which she investigates socio-political issues and explores memory, identity, and the relationship between nature and the man-made.
• Calling into question the economics of the art world, Tamir Lichtenberg’s Package Deal (2013–2014) is the sum total of the artist’s output over the course of one year, divided into monthly segments. For the project, Lichtenberg presold a month’s work to collectors, patrons, and institutions for the price of an average monthly salary in Israel. In return, the buyer received a package containing unknown art products that Lichtenberg created during one month (videos, drawings, poems, sound works, and found objects). The entire year’s worth of work will be united for the first time at the Israel Museum in an installation rich with poetry, humor, and nuance. Based in Tel Aviv, Lichtenberg’s practice is informed by conceptual frameworks that blur the boundaries between art and life and examine the encounter between “human nature and the nature of things.”
• Using a complex network of symbols and historical references, Ido Michaeli depicts an allegory of social structure in Bank Hapoalim Carpet (2014). The woven work is an “image bank” of sorts—including examples of early Israeli art from the Bezalel period, archaeological artifacts, socialist imagery, and Renaissance art to depict social hierarchies among the classes. Bank Hapoalim Carpet was woven in Kabul, Afghanistan, where Michaeli's detailed preparatory sketch was smuggled. The extensive journey the carpet made—from a letter-sized sketch all the way to Afghanistan and back to Israel as a finished object—is documented in a video as part of the installation.
• Gilad Ratman’s Five Bands from Romania (2011–15) is a complex audio-visual installation featuring five Romanian heavy metal bands playing outdoors with amplifiers buried in a pit dug into the ground. The piece takes its inspiration from the 1991 concert by the heavy metal band Metallica in Moscow, which symbolized the end of the Communist era, and from the 1972 film "Pink Floyd Live in Pompeii". The result is a surreal blend of distorted guitar, drumming, and vocals erupting from the earth, creating an experience in which the intersection of western themes of freedom and self-expression collide with the lasting impact of 20th century Eastern Europe’s history. Ratman, who represented Israel at the 53rd Venice Biennale, creates videos and installations that probe untenable aspects of human behavior— among them pain, struggle, and wildness.
6 Artists, 6 Projects is organized by the Israel Museum and curated by Mira Lapidot, Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of the Fine Arts; Dr. Noam Gal, Horace and Grace Goldsmith Senior Curator of the Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography; Amitai Mendelsohn, Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art; and Aya Miron, Associate Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.
50th Anniversary Exhibition Program Sponsorship
The Israel Museum’s 2015 anniversary exhibition season is generously supported by the donors to the Museum’s 50th Anniversary Exhibition Fund: Herta and Paul Amir, Los Angeles; Foundation Albert Amon, Lausanne, Switzerland; Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman, Los Angeles and Stephen and Claudine Bronfman, Montreal, in honor of three generations of Bronfman family support for the Museum; Claudia Davidoff, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in memory of Ruth and Leon Davidoff; The Gottesman Family, Tel Aviv and New York, in memory of Dov Gottesman and in honor of Rachel Gottesman; The Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Providence, Rhode Island, in honor of Sylvia Hassenfeld; Alice and Nahum Lainer, Los Angeles; The Nash Family Foundation, New York; and Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Foundation in Israel.
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