Watershed - The Jerusalem Biennale 2017
The Jerusalem Biennale taken a place this year for the 3rd time. The Biennale hosted 25 exhibitions and projects from all around the world: NYC, LA and Dallas, London, Paris, Saint Petersburg and Budapest, New Delhi and Singapore and of course Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Biennale’s venues this year includes the Tower of David Museum, The Bible Lands Museum, The Skirball Museum, Polonsky Academy at the Van Leer Jerusalem Research Institute and more.
Biennale 2017’s title is Watershed. As a geological term examines water, streams and rivers that split and converge—it can also be used as a metaphor to help us think about ourselves and the way we split and converge as individuals and groups. Both in English and Hebrew, the term is used to state a moment of important change – an event that changed the course of history.
The central mission of the Jerusalem Biennale is to facilitate the manifestation of various creative forces in Jerusalem, within the framework of Contemporary Jewish Art. The Biennale strives to exhibit the most updated, challenging, creative and varied selection of exhibitions and events under this framework. We hope that Biennale 2017 will be a watershed moment for Contemporary Jewish Art and for Jerusalem as the natural center of this unique field.
The Space Within I Lili Almog. Curator: Eilat Liber
Alternative Topographies | Avner Sher. Curator: Dr. Smadar Sheffi
Lili Almog I The Space Within
Lili Almog was born in 1961 in Tel Aviv and currently lives and works in New York.
She has devoted much of her career to photographing women around the world, presenting intimate glimpses into the women’s cultural and spiritual identities. In the past, Almog used a documentary approach and would embed herself among the subjects of her photographs in order to document women in their life environments. For this exhibition, Almog chose to have models wear chador-like garments, representing the women in black clothing in many religions in the world. These new photographs examine the veil as an expression of a religious world view, of femininity, of modes of observation, and of the power of the gaze.
In the Drawing Room series, the models were photographed in a studio of an art academy and in the artist’s workroom. The artificial environment of the studio provided Almog with the flexibility she needed in order to create thought-provoking compositions while playing with the woman’s poses and different objects and nude paintings in the style of the great classical artists, which hang on the walls or rest on easels.
A look at the photographs of the series reveals mobile and integrated elements, such as a repeating pattern of jazz chords. The inside spaces in Almog’s photographs become conceptual spaces that enable the observation of women both as subjects and as creators of art.
Almog photographed the Seasons series outside, in the urban nature, as an element that complements the changing seasons of the year. The women wearing robes represent an independent and continuous constancy of tremendous power. When their silhouettes are positioned in front of the landscape, they are reminiscent of an empty key hole-like space. However, although their figures are integrated into the landscape and embedded within it, each woman is in complete control of the space. This main paradox characterizes the description of the women in The Space Within. Almog exposes and, at the same time, blurs the subjects of her photographs. She presents the object covered in its glory and in doing so, what is not shown in fact strengthens the presence of the object.
Emily D. Bilski
Avner Sher I Alternative Topographies
The tension between the eternal and the transient is one of the characteristics of metaphysical and tangible Jerusalem. In the 950 Square Meters – Alternative Topographies exhibition, Sher researches, examines, and observes the complexities that are derived from this tension. The relationships between destruction and rebuilding and processes of extinction and preservation have been at the heart of Sher’s works over the years.
Sher’s works are created on corkboard, a material that charges the works with implied meanings. Cork is the outer bark of the cork oak tree and is peeled from the trunk once every nine years. In recent years, Sher has focused on the Old City of Jerusalem, which is less than one square kilometer (just approximately 950 square meters) and which houses holy sites of the three monotheistic religions.
For thousands of years, nations, kingdoms, and religions have fought and struggled for control of this crowded and small territory. Contemporary and ancient maps outline the spiritual and urban geography of the city and reflect the faith and devotion to religion in what is a pseudo ongoing dialogue of dismantling and building, destruction and healing, and reusing parts of destroyed buildings (spolia) – all these are among the notable characteristics of the city.
At the Tower of David, a museum dedicated to the history of the city and located in a historic structure whose foundations date to the Herodian period, the “Maps of Jerusalem” and “Spolia” series are loaded with new significances and make reference to the frequent change and constant development in the city. The maps are made of cork, which Sher processes intensively and through which Sher creates contemporary history.
The exhibition begins with hints located in the stunning inner courtyards of the citadel. Part of the exhibition is presented on the graduated terraces that look out onto the city. In this way, graduated and layered levels of significance are created that lead to the terraces, to the meeting point with the view of Jerusalem that can be seen from the museum. Some of the works are presented in a temporary red-purple structure, whose top portion can be seen from outside the walls of the Tower of David. The structure marks a new chapter, one that is short and transient, in the history of the citadel and its color is reminiscent of the glory of the different kingdoms that were in the city and of the blood of the city’s defenders and fighters.
Dr. Smadar Sheffi