"The magic of visual art lies in the fact that every aspect of the viewing experience plays an integral role in the production," enthuses Idit Harman, co-founder and director of Tel Aviv's Clipa Theater for visual arts. "In a sense, these different elements - be they props, lighting, scenery, costumes or performers' body parts - become actors themselves, creating themes in a dialogue-free (and often plot-free) performance." With her husband Dimitri Tyulpanov, Harman was inspired to establish Clipa 12 years ago by what they perceived to be a gap in the industry. "Both my husband and I came from performance backgrounds, and our vision was to establish a theater devoted to the production and performance of visual art, which didn't exist at the time," she explains. Since then, this vision has expanded; next week's Red Clipa Festival for Visual Arts - the first in the theater's history - is the latest example of the pair's creative foresight. Running this Wednesday through June 30, the festival features well-known domestic and international acts playing at the Clipa Theater and at venues in Haifa and Ashkelon. "For me, the opportunity to showcase some of the best local and foreign visual artists is a dream come true," says Harman. As well as being chosen for their stirring visual feats, Harman stresses that the acts were all selected for the powerful and intimate bonds they form with their audiences. "I think connection is an essential element of performance," she explains, citing Icelandic alternative-rock singer Bjork as an example of an artist who succeeds in achieving such union while incorporating diverse imagery into her performances. "Bjork's integration of visual aspects such as eccentric costumes, thrilling lighting and the symbolic use of her body makes for a totality that is mesmerizing," she enthuses. Of the three international acts scheduled to appear, Akhe - a duo of Russian painters engaged in exploring dimensions of space and time through the use of the plastic arts - are the most celebrated. The pair's accolades include first prize at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival of 2003 for their creation The White Cabin, the piece they'll perform here. In it, they manipulate space to create the impression that a single painting is repeatedly changing form - a representation, they claim, of the ever-changing yet consistent relationship between male and female. French theater company Material Prima, renowned in their home country for provocative imagery as much as innovative concepts, makes use of the body as a form of symbolism. In Eternal #1 (performed here with a less-than-customary dosage of their signature nudity, thanks to Harman's conception of Israeli sensibilities), the company depicts the modern obsession with remaining young. Japanese Butoh performer Kudo Taketuro, the third of the international acts, appears in The History of the Human Race, a solo performance featuring improvisational Japanese dance. All three foreign acts will give master classes throughout the festival as well as taking part in Red Clipa at White Night - a Clipa Festival production for Tel Aviv's White Night event which features outdoor performances in various locations throughout the night of June 28. Red Clipa at White Night begins at 7 p.m. on Rothschild Boulevard. Local offerings include veteran clown company Arma, which will delight audiences with their cheerful pranks while touching on somber themes, and The Owl - a work by choreographer Michal Herman performed against a minimalist backdrop to create the impression of a black-and-white television. For tickets and information about the Tel Aviv performances, call (03) 687-9219, for the Ashkelon performances call (08) 678-9246 and for the Haifa performances call (04) 838-3554. Tickets for local acts cost NIS 60-80, while international acts cost NIS 90-110.