"I have always had an artistic flame within me," says David Amichai, the Public Relations and Marketing Manager at Museum on the Seam, a unique socio-political contemporary museum in Jerusalem. The Museum was recently listed in a CNN travel article
as one of the top ten museums in Israel and described as "the most
provocative" in the country. Indeed the museum stages exhibitions on
subjects that Jerusalem’s more mainstream cultural institutions are
hesitant to touch, such as human rights, emotional anxiety, and the
relationship between personal and public spaces.
Son of the
renowned late Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, David attributes his love of
the arts partially to his father. He spent his childhood going back and
forth between Jerusalem and New York. "When I first got to America, I
attended a public elementary school, and got into the breakdance
culture. I also developed a love of graffiti art when the culture was
first emerging, and used to go down to the train tracks and watch
graffiti artists create their latest piece," remembers David.
studied at a high school in Manhattan specializing in the humanities
before returning to Jerusalem. Although he always loved poetry, art was
an even greater passion, and after the army, David decided to study art
at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
He then worked in Manhattan
as an art dealer for several years, where he dealt with exclusive art
from the Renaissance period and by the Dutch masters. At one point,
David came back to Israel with the aim of selling a painting worth
between four and five million dollars. "Every place in Israel that I
visited only wanted to borrow the painting," recalls David. "Nobody
actually had the means to acquire it."
Around that time, David
started contemplating reality and the meaning of life more and more.
Although he had grown up secular, he eventually came to religion after a
long inner search; a decision that today he is content with. He got
married soon after and began building a family.
David then worked at The Jerusalem Post
for around three years, where he managed the newspaper's Christian
edition. "One of the highlights was meeting people from the Christian
embassy and the evangelical community," says David. "They're very
supportive and have a strong connection to Israel."
excited when he saw that the Museum on the Seam was looking for a member
of staff. "Although I'm not an artist per se, I have a pull toward the
world of art," says David.
That was four years ago and David has
since worked closely with director and curator of the museum Rafi Etgar.
He focuses on the museum's public relations but since the museum has a
small staff compliment, everyone does a bit of everything.
on the Seam is one of the only places in Jerusalem to offer the quality
of hip contemporary art that one would find in Soho or Chelsea," says
David proudly. "But it's also so unique; within walking distance of
ancient enclaves like Mea Shearim."
The museum, according to
David, runs two exhibitions a year that raises varying social issues and
tries to encourage the audience to draw their own conclusions. The
current exhibit is centered on the theme of animal cruelty. Other
memorable exhibitions in the past include Homeless Home that dealt with
migration and the absence of a home, as well as another that dealt with
the clash between Islam and the West. For David, a highlight of his job
is the exhibition openings. "A few years ago, I watched a Japanese
artist in a crane tie black ropes around the entire building and thought
to myself that this is a great place to work."
Museum on the
Seam was established in 1999 with the support of the Von Holtzbrinck
family of Germany. It is located on Route 1, along Israel’s 1948-1967
border with Jordan, in a building built in 1932 by Arab-Christian
architect Anton Baramki. The Museum attracts a diverse crowd – from
tourists to Arab tour groups to army members to religious art students.
lives in French Hill with his wife and three children. To unwind, he
plays music in his recording studio at home, listens to classical music,
and hangs out with his kids. "After hours, I prefer to spend time with
family," says David. "Artists can be very unstable people, although I
suppose that's what makes them interesting."
David's family and
brother and sister are supportive of his choice to lead a more religious
lifestyle. He still sees his old friends, including many in New York
who are not Jewish and are still into the punk rock and the hardcore
music scene. "It's interesting to meet up with them as I have changed so
much. I feel that I'm in the right place."
"There is something
inherent in Jerusalem that I love," shares David. "In Tel Aviv, it is
easy to be typecast whereas in Jerusalem it comes more naturally to be
yourself." David goes on to describe how he loves the vital mix of
ancient and modern Jerusalem, and how you can time warp yourself in
Jerusalem. "One minute you can be at a trendy and vibrant modern bar
and the next at the Kotel."
is such a great community in Jerusalem with so many different types of
people co-existing and living side by side," remarks David. "It's a very
pluralistic place with both an arts and religious scene."
is also fond of the characters in Jerusalem. "I have such fond memories
of an evangelical man who preached in the same place for years. He
called himself Jesus and had burning blue eyes, a robe and long white
beard. I also recall a Yemenite Jew who used to yell "we want Moshiach
now". Somehow these people feel more authentic in Jerusalem."
is optimistic about the future of Jerusalem. "A lot of people that left
Jerusalem are returning with the introduction of the light rail and
emerging culture. People are beginning to understand the marvelous
things and beauty that Jerusalem has to offer. I only hope that real
estate prices go down. I would not want to live elsewhere."
would I do another lifetime? I'd be a kindergarten teacher. I love
small kids, and being around them gives me peace of mind. Something
about their whole existence is very calming and comforting."
not planning on going into politics, which is the latest trend," smiles
David. "These days everybody has plans to be an MK. I stay far away
from politics, despite the museum being regarded as a socio-political
museum." Plans for David's future include more of the same – to be a
good dad, and keep doing the excellent things he's been doing for the
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