Imagination in the spotlight

The ‘Another World is Possible’ exhibition presents 10 new video works filmed in Israel over the past year.

By REBECCA BASKIN
September 20, 2011 22:52
4 minute read.
Another World is Possible

another world is possible_311. (photo credit: Courtesy of Bezalel/Yaffo23)

 
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If you could imagine another world, what would it look like? An upcoming exhibit at the Bezalel/Yaffo 23 gallery is planning on asking just that. The exhibit, called “Another World is Possible,” will feature 10 experimental films that hope to make viewers start imagining.

The Bezalel/Yaffo 23 gallery is located on the third floor of the Post Office building in central Jerusalem, in what once was the city’s switchboard. The gallery opened a year ago and since then has been providing what director and chief curator Roy Brand describes as “a platform for artists to experiment.”

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The gallery describes itself as “a catalyst and an advocate for new ideas, discourses and trends in contemporary art, design and theory,” and “an exhibition space and a thinking pod [that] devotes its energy and resources to activating the most important, ground-breaking, challenging and exceptional creative practises of our times.”

“We [the gallery] take ourselves to be cultural activists – working in the interstice of several practices – philosophy, art, politics, social activism and urban action,” explained Brand.

“We will report on the state of the arts in Jerusalem, from as many perspectives as possible – music, visual culture, politics, social structures, everyday life, philosophy, religion, war – everything that has to do with the way life is lived in this place in the present.”

According to Brand, the gallery provides something unique on the Israeli arts scene. He describes the work as “highquality avant-garde.”

“There’s a lot of thirst for places ... that are just different,” he said. The gallery has already held six different exhibits, most with international participation.

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Unlike a traditional museum or gallery, Bezalel/Yaffo 23 has no standing collection, and none of the works are for sale. According to Brand, this sets the gallery apart and gives it much more flexibility in the works that it shows. As well, its connection to the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design allows it to become a place of learning and research.

One of Brand’s goals is to build the gallery’s connection with the city.

“We do a lot of work together with different elements in Jerusalem... We want to get them involved in our framework, and vice-versa.”

He says that people learn about the gallery mostly by word-of-mouth, and that what he calls a “feedback loop” has developed between the gallery and its patrons.

“It creates discourse,” he says. “People start thinking about art in different ways, and some of it comes back to us.”

FOR BRAND, it is important that the gallery show exhibits that are relevant – and he thinks than an exhibit about imagination is particularly timely.

“It’s a very applicable idea for where we are – to develop political imagination,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

“Art can help us imagine another possible world. We are suffering from imagination that is too narrow – politically, aesthetically. People have stopped imagining.”

The exhibit’s curator, Ma’ayan Amir, began working on “Another World is Possible” two years ago – long before its subject captured the entire country during the summer’s momentum of social activism.

“I chose the name long before the summer’s protests, and it amazes me to see the connection,” she said.

The exhibit was developed with the sponsorship of the New Israeli Foundation for Cinema and Television, which asked artists to examine the relationship between experimental film and other forms of art, including music, film and theater. Amir then chose 10 works based on her interest in the initial proposals.

According to Amir, the works are very different from one another, but share a focus on moments of detachment, wherein the subject becomes separated from his words, his gestures or his own voice. Describing the exhibit, Amir writes, “within a space of divided representation that seems to take form in front of our eyes, the works appear and we achieve the image of a society that has lost the ability to control the images it creates for itself.”

She explained that the subject of the exhibit came from within the works themselves, which show “a type of shift to the space of imagination that artists can create.” The exhibit’s name, she said, comes from a “wistful wish... that belongs to the realm of the imaginary.”

The works range from documentarystyle, like Rinat Kotler’s Explosive Flow, which documents freestyle rap battles around the country, to fantastical, like Ehud Pishof’s Abduction, in which human protagonists abduct aliens. All 10 works will be shown continuously, each in its own space. Some are conventional films, others are less traditional. For example, the installation Let it Bleed, by Rona Yaffman, documents her brother’s transformation from man to woman, then later back to man, and is comprised of photos, sheets of iron, a mummified cat, monitors and a projector screening family films.

Amir hopes that her exhibit will get people thinking outside the box even after leaving the gallery.

“Art has the ability to enable the shift from something concrete to something imaginary – not just to re-enact the existing world,” she said.

“You don’t go to an exhibit to find out something you already know... a good exhibit makes an opening to a possible different world.

“[I hope] to awaken a desire to change something, to not have it remain something passive – not just an experience of watching. Art has an important role in society of creating new imaginings. When you do that, you can change things.”

‘Another World is Possible’ exhibit runs from September 27 through November 5. Admission is free.

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