(photo credit: Courtesy)
EAST HAMPTON, NEW YORK – In a tony art gallery in the summer hot spot of East Hampton, there is a small doorway which leads to a world of true modern horror: sirens, screams, falling Katyusha rockets and trauma.
Artists 4 Israel President Craig Dershowitz says his group created the exhibit, now showing at the Vered Gallery in the town’s center through August 24, as an attempt to convey the experience of living in Sderot to a foreign audience.
The contrast between East Hampton, a posh summer playground for the affluent, and Sderot, is striking and deliberate.
“We did it in East Hampton because it is one of the most safe and secure
places, far removed from the pain and strife suffered in Israel and
caused by Hamas,” Dershowitz said. “We wanted them to understand what
occurs in this other, far removed part of the world.”
The impetus behind the exhibit came from an artist, Dershowitz said, who
returned from a mission to Sderot realizing he “was having difficulty
expressing just how sad and depressing the bomb shelters were.
“He said he wished that he could show people in America the truth about
the terror conditions under which the people of Sderot suffer,”
Artists 4 Israel, which describes itself as “a community of creative
individuals working together in an ongoing, collaborative project
expressing Israel’s right to exist in peace and security,” then followed
up on the idea with various artists and artistic organizations.
They spoke to an installation artist, Annie Albagli, about how to create
an actual shelter, and then to members of the Arts Collective,
DeCampAde Cook about creating emotive artistic pieces to accompany the
shelter. Realizing that the factual component of the exhibit was
critical, Dershowitz said, Artists 4 Israel worked to assemble
educational information on Sderot.
The exhibit is small, but multi-faceted, with its centerpiece being a
remarkably realistic, hot and uncomfortable bomb shelter. There are also
more symbolic elements of the exhibit, such as a red string wall made
out of 10,000 inches of red string, meant to represent the over 10,000
rockets Sderot’s residents have had to live through to make it to the
safety of the cramped shelter.
The roof of the exhibit is deliberately unfinished, representing the
many places in Sderot which remain unprotected from rocket attack.
Four thousand flower petals are meant to represent the four thousand children of Sderot.
“Each petal begins the exhibit beautiful and fresh, like the children of
Sderot,” Dershowitz said. “But when locked in the shelter, deprived of
oxygen, light and someone to care for them, they begin to wither and
The exhibit highlights the proverbial writing on the wall.
Visitors to the exhibit are asked to draw 10,000 lines, in order for them to understand the true extent of that number.
The wall text highlights other cities in Israel that have also been hit by rockets.
As an aural subtext, a video and audio screen play the Color Red alarm
along with videos of rocket attacks and people running to make it to
bomb shelters on time.
Dershowitz said reaction to the piece has been “intense and emotional.”
“Some people have left the exhibit crying, feeling for the people of
Sderot,” Dershowitz said. “Others have left angry, mad at these
Dershowitz said that some have immediately written checks to support the
building of more shelters. Others have asked Artists 4 Israel to bring
this exhibit around the world, particularly to college campuses.
The organization’s interactive Web site can be found at www.blueboxstudio.biz/clie nts/artists4israel/.