The idea of Black Market is one of those "how come no one has thought of this before" ideas. 100 experts on one chosen-in-advance topic sit in a room and for NIS 5 you can buy half an hour of conversation with them. People who can't or don't want to schedule a meeting with an expert, can take earphones and listen to one of six channels, each with a different conversation taking place. I cannot think of a better way to acquire knowledge.
"I believe that the idea came to us because of Berlin. It's a city where meetings and group conversations happen all the time," says Hannah Hurtzig, founder of Black Market. "Our group, Mobile Academy, is made up of theater people. The old theater was the Agora, where people would just talk to a listening audience. We wanted to recreate that," she relates.
Hurtzig continues, "Theater is not just a show, but a place to exchange knowledge. But knowledge that is not confined or related to any academic knowledge, rather it's shaped by a need, by an interest. When we started meeting experts the first year we wanted to create this event, we met with lawyers, social workers - people who have vast knowledge but would much rather discuss it one on one, instead of speaking to an audience. And that's how the event transpired." Hurtzig notes, "The only rule is that the expert starts speaking immediately about the topic and from then on it's completely open. It's a dialogue."
After taking place 11 times around the world, in cities such as Vienna, Istanbul and Liverpool, this Saturday, September 26, the Market comes to Jaffa.
"A curator from the Holon Digital Art center, who is among the producers of the event, saw a Market in Berlin and felt that it was exactly what she wants in Israel," Hurtzig recalls.
The subject of the Market is always one of public interest. At Jaffa the Market focuses on the invisible and the ghostly. "There is a lot of missing information about Jaffa. It's not clear what is being passed down to the children. The entire situation regarding Jaffa is foggy and complicated, as is everything regarding the Israeli political situation. There is a need for knowledge."
Hurtzig explains, "We also discovered that there is a great effect on the way people present themselves politically, and the way that the issues are discussed. As such, we wish to explore memory and the idea of what's visible vs. invisible."
The experts at the upcoming Black Market come from the most diverse fields. For example, you can find Gilia Beger - a preservation architect, singer/song writer Eran Tsur, Roee Shani - a doctoral student at Tel Aviv University who is researching genetically-transferred human aggression and Abu George, a resident of the city for 40 years, who is also a fisherman and recovering drug addict. Not all experts talk about something directly related to Jaffa, but it is always related to the chosen topic. For example, an expert on vampires will talk about why everyone else can see the vampires, but they themselves cannot see their own reflection. The connection to Jaffa is yours to discuss.
"But the discussions are not the most important aspect," says Hurtzig, "our main focus is the listening. Most people will not be able to sit directly with the expert they desire. That's where the earphones come in. The event is an observation machine of sorts. The audience watches a theatrical experience and is then drawn into a situation of a viewer watching viewers watching a scene."
Black Market takes place at the Arab-Jewish Center, 109 Kedem St. Jaffa, on September 26. signing up for experts starts at 6 p.m. Most conversations are in Hebrew/Arabic/English but some are also in Italian and French. For more information visit www.digitalartlab.org.il