First Annual Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art

Jerusalem biennale for Contemporary Jewish ArtI’m very pleased to be able to write about the first annual Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art (September 15 through October 31st.) This first year will have five exhibitions in five separate locations. This looks like it should be very exciting and interesting. There are about fifty artists, both Israeli and International, emerging and established, participating in this inaugural biennale. Artists and curators come from diverse backgrounds ranging from secular to charedi and dati leumi. For instance, some exhibitors are graduates of Oman art school, a satellite school of Bezalel Academy, for Charedi women. All provide their own interpretation of Jewish art.

Five locations is actually a bit inaccurate. The locations include Beit Avi Chai, Heichal Shlomo, the Achim Chasid complex, First Station and the Musrara neighborhood. Musrara, is not exactly one venue but rather the exhibition, Traditional, consists of of installations curated by Rami Ozeri with the Muslala group throughout the neighborhood. The installations interpret texts and customs from the perspective of contemporary art.

Yosi Arish Zamaa Nafshi copyright Yosi Arish Courtesy N.L Cohen Yosi Arish Tzama Nafshi

Another venue, Wolfson Museum of Jewish Art, hosts Tsama Nafshi (My Soul Thirsts), curated by Nurit Sirkis Bank (and assistant curator Noa Lea Cohen) and features more than 60 works in different media focusing on the question of how people concretize the in-concrete concept of Holiness or God. Artists include Tobi Kahn, Judith Margulis, Metavel and Avi Biran. I won’t talk about every exhibit here, but other well known artists participating in other exhibits include Ken Goldman, Andi Arnovitz, Jacqeline Nicholls, and photojournalist Ziv Koren.

There will be a few special events as part of the Biennale during Chol Hamoed. They require advanced registration (via the Kol Haot website) but are included in the cost of tickets to the Biennale. I hope to be able to go as they sound interesting and fun.
On September 22nd, there will be “Text to Symbol” workshops to transform biblical texts into works of art. These seem similar to the Kol Haot workshops described in this mitzvot unplugged guest post and should be fun for the whole family (at least those able to interpret bible stories into art.) These will take place at Achim Chasid (45 Emek Refaim) in 1.5 hour sessions starting at 10 and 12:30. On September 23 at 8 PM, there will be a panel discussion in English, “Ancient Texts & Contemporary Art”, with artists Andi Arnovitz, David Moss, Ken Goldman, Ruth Schreiber and Mordechai Beck.

Ticket prices: 30 NIS for the three venues -Achim Chasid, First Station and Wolfson Museum of Art. They do not have to be visited on the same day. Alternatively, 20 NIS for a single venue. Beit Avi Chai and Musrara are free.
Chol Hamoed (22 – 24 September): 10 – 7
Sundays-Thursdays 10 – 1 and 5 – 8
Fridays and holiday eves: 10:00 – 14:00

For more information see the Jerusalem Biennale website.

Photos courtesy: Noa Lea Cohen
Yosi Arish Tzama Nafshi

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