International artists flock to Jerusalem for Contemporary Art festival

  (photo credit:  Riff Cohen & Nicolas Benac)
(photo credit: Riff Cohen & Nicolas Benac)

Several international artists flocked to Israel in September to take part in the Manofim Festival of Contemporary Art in Jerusalem with the support of the Foreign Ministry.

Established 14 years ago, the festival is an opportunity to showcase Israeli creativity in different art fields including visual arts, dancing and contemporary music. 

Galleries and studios from all over the city took part in the festival, offering their facilities for exhibitions, lectures and performances. These organizations included the Talpiot Artists’ Workshops, Jerusalem Artists’ House, Beit Hansen Association Art and Research Center, Morel Drefler Gallery at Musrara School, Azrieli Gallery at Hadassah College, Beit Ticho Shelter Gallery, Beta Gallery, Agrippa Gallery 12 and The Cube Gallery.

The exhibition “More Images About Architecture and the Sea” by Vienna-based multidisciplinary artists Aleksandra Kolodziejczyk and Karl Wratschko focused on architecture in public spaces and structures on seashores through new cinematic and photographic works. 

Among others, Kolodziejczyk and Wratschko brought attention to gender disparity in toponomy.

“We were walking around in Vienna, and we saw that in the outskirts you find streets named after women. Places that are very far away, where nobody goes, there you find the streets with women’s names,” Wratschko said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post ahead of the festival.

Manofim also featured its traditional Jerusalem Art Conference dedicated to the place of art in relation to international and local political, climate and technological issues. 

One panel discussed the situation of artists in times of crisis, war and displacement.

Belarusan artist Marina Naprushkina presented her work of the Neue Nachbarschaft/Moabit (New Neighborhood/Moabit) initiative in Berlin and Moabit Mountain College as an example of building a commons space based on migrant self-organization where art became a key means of communication.

Russian self-taught artist and educator Dmitry Vilensky talked about the political challenges artists are facing in Russia in light of the war against Ukraine and the growing repression his country is enduring.

Climate change and ecological challenges were also a prominent theme both in exhibitions and in lectures. 

“What better allegory for the paralysis and fatalism of a horrified humanity in the face of the mass extinction of species, the onset of climate catastrophe and the resulting avalanche of social calamities – in short, eco-suicide?” emphatically asked a lecture by writer and curator Ivor stodolsky, founder of the Artists at Risks network.

Nora Sternfeld, a professor of art education at the HFBK Hamburg, talked about the “Documenta,” the exhibition of contemporary art that takes place in Kassel, Germany, every five years and the how it became the year’s most contentious exhibition due to severe allegations of antisemitism.

Jens Hauser, a media theorist active in Paris and Copenhagen, also attended Manofim.

“The festival has grown a lot over the years,” Manofim’s co-founder Lee He Shulov told The Jerusalem Post. “We want to develop programs in conjunction with communities around us, and people that want to be in contact with us.”

The visit included performances by accomplished musicians: Riff Cohen, El Khat, a cassette music party with Khen Elmaleh, and more. 

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