Art as a bridge to peace

An Arab museum of contemporary art opens in Sakhnin.

June 17, 2015 17:53
2 minute read.
Museums in Israel

An Arab museum of contemporary art opens in Sakhnin. (photo credit: PR)


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The Arab Museum of Contemporary Art (AMOCA) in Sakhnin will open on June 17.

The museum, which has a collection of 200 contemporary international works of art, is a cooperative initiative of Belu- Simion Fainaru and Avital Bar-Shay, initiators and directors of the museum, as well as initiators and curators of the Mediterranean Biennale in Sakhnin together with the Municipality of Sakhnin, thereby creating a new reality of cooperation between Jews and Arabs.

AMOCA is the first museum of its kind to be established in an Arab city in Israel. The goal of the museum is to exhibit local and international contemporary art in order to promote peace and dialogue by means of art activities, mutual confidence-building between neighbors and a strengthening of values of equality and mutuality, leading toward the creation of an infrastructure for dialogue and coexistence between communities and cultures in conflict. Belu-Simion Fainaru and Avital Bar-Shay hope that through the intervention of art, controversies could be bridged with the emphasis on multiculturalism, art creativity and human dignity, as well as a vision and hope for coexistence and a better future.

The museum, currently housed in the Bet Netufa Association of Cities – Environmental Center, opens its gates in Sakhnin with the aim of making contemporary art accessible to the Arab and Jewish population living in the region through the display of art in direct contact with the people and in cooperation with them, art that creates contacts in the local and international dimensions.

The opening exhibition of the museum is titled “HIWAR.” The word hiwar in Arabic has two main definitions: to describe a calm conversation between two or more people or (especially in a political or conflict context) a process by which two or more parties engage in a conversation that is calm and free from animosity with the aim of reaching an agreement on a certain issue. These two definitions are exactly the same ones found in dictionaries to define the English word “dialogue.” Hiwar, dialogue, is a process that allows people, usually in small groups, to share their perspectives and experiences with one another about difficult issues.

HIWAR, dialogue, is not about winning an argument or coming to an agreement but about understanding and learning. HIWAR, dialogue, dispels stereotypes, builds trust and enables people to be open to perspectives that are very different from their own. Dialogue can, and often does, lead to both personal and collaborative action. HIWAR, dialogue, is a spiritual, transformative journey of understanding the other.

At the opening, the museum will launch an artist hosting program that will encourage Israeli and international artists to come and stay at the place to create an interchange of experiences and cultures, as well as run art workshops and community creativities. Furthermore, the museum will launch a community educational program. The Mediterranean Biennale events will continue to be held and will be incorporated into the art program of the museum. Further details regarding the museum and the “HIWAR” exhibition, as well as an invitation to tour the museum, will be announced later.

AMOCA, 100 Dohaa St., near the Dohaa Stadium, Sakhnin. Sunday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (during Ramadan, June 18 to July 20, the museum will be open Sunday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Website: MEDITERRANEANBIENNALE.COM

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