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For many people, the most poignant images associated with the old Ben Gurion Airport are the famous shots of herds of immigrants clutching babies and makeshift luggage, kissing the ground and thanking God. Yet this week, there will be different kinds of new arrivals on view in the old yet beloved Terminal 1, in honor of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design's centennial.
There will be two separate exhibitions filling the old terminal from the British Mandate era: one featuring hundreds of works by this year's class of Bezalel bachelor degree recipients and a second show of masters graduates from Bezalel and from 15 European and American institutions. The international MFA exhibition is truly an exciting occasion - the first of its kind in Israel - and will showcase works by 51 artists.
Since the show is taking place in a former airport and will showcase artists about to embark on professional careers, the organizers seem to be tickled with the somewhat cutesy theme of "taking off." On the other hand, Nahum Tevet, head of Bezalel's MFA program and co-curator of the exhibitions, wrote a catalogue essay developing the loaded theme of Territories. Viewers will certainly enjoy seeing this broad cross section of emerging art from diverse academic programs and areas of the world, and making their own comparisons and conclusions.
As graduates of the highest degree possible for fine artists, all are thoroughly engaged with art theory as well as political and other contemporary issues, as will be apparent. Logically, each artist's perspective is clearly connected to issues related to their place of residence and study.
Ozlem Gunyol, who has studied in Ankara, Turkey and is now graduating from the Stadelschule in Frankfurt, is a clear example of an artist interested in "place." In Terminal 1, Gunyol will present a video of apparently abstract, morphing shapes and bright colors. After a few moments, the viewer might realize that these changing forms represent the changing borders and territories of Europe from 1804 to 2006.
Other artists, such as Emily Strange, an MFA graduate of the Glasgow School of Art, will show photographs exploring urban neighborhoods and their destruction. Strange's color photographs of graffiti, dumpsters and delicate debris serve as a comment on the way traces of urban life are obliterated by re-zoning and other forms of "progress."
Goods to Declare will also feature artists working in the more traditional media as well as performance art, and will allow visitors to get a sense of the general direction of international contemporary art - at least the kind produced by recent graduates of the world's most prestigious academic programs. This is the kind of event that fans of young art simply won't want to miss.
The exhibitions' opening will be held this Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Terminal 1, Ben Gurion Airport. The show will remain open and free through August 8, on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. A free shuttle from the train stop at Terminal 3 runs every half hour.
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