The art of living in Jerusalem

The Musrara arts school’s festival Hivhuv includes artwork, music and lectures.

December 15, 2016 19:05
4 minute read.
The Musrara arts school’s festival Hivhuv

Nazkat Akichi & Shachar Marcus. (photo credit: ANDREAS DEMERZ)

Over the years the Musrara art school, in the eponymous district of the capital, delicately situated between east and west Jerusalem and betwixt secular and haredi neighborhoods, has made a habit of organizing socially oriented activities. Now the Naggar Multidisciplinary School of Art and Society – to give it its full and selfexplanatory titular due – has put together yet another new free festival, which goes by the name of Hivhuv (“flicker“ in Hebrew).

The event will take place December from 20 to 22, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. each day. It will take in a wide range of fields, including video art, sound installations, avant-garde music, lectures and discussion groups.

The artist and speaker roster features guests from home and abroad, such as Norwegian-born German experimental filmmaker Bjørn Melhus; Charly Nijensohn from Argentina; Danish video artist Marie Rømer Westh; and Germanbased Turkish artist Nezaket Ekici.

The latter will present an intriguing and, ultimately, somewhat disconcerting offering called Fossils, which she made in cooperation with Israeli counterpart and longtime collaborator Shahar Marcus.

In addition to Marcus there are quite a few homegrown A-lister creators as well, such as Ronit Tayar, Avi Mussel, Sharon Paz, Eyal Bitton and Amir Meir, and there’s plenty more spread over the three days.

The musician lineup is impressive as well, with veteran musicologistcomposer and musician Yossi Mar- Haim, Tomer Baruch, Amir Bolzman and Ariel Armoni, Hila Ruach and Ryskinder.

As Marcus points out, it is not just the content of the various works that tends towards the freer and more progressive side of artistic endeavor; the locations also offer some added value.

“The presentations will take place in out-of-the-ordinary spots,” he says, “like in backyards and in the street and that sort of thing.”

Havatzelet Street in downtown Jerusalem, for example, will become “an active roaming domain” with sound installations and video works from Israel and abroad, the latter being screened on building facades, inside local businesses and out on the street.

The thematic central strand to the visual offerings will focus on the tension that exists between the urban milieu and Mother Nature, viewing the city “as an untamed, exotic and irrational place” and will examine “the place of human beings in the urban expanse.”

The music show bill is also designed to keep the envelope well and truly pushed. It takes in experimental and avant-garde projects, as well as contemporary rock and roll and some biting performance slots.

The sociopolitical side of the festival will come through strongly in the dialogue sessions and talks by leading lecturers in relevant fields, who will air their learned views on topics such as urban renewal and the urban domain, nature in the city and art as a means of generating urban change.

The urbane and diverse speaker lineup includes the likes of French philosophy lecturer Prof. Joelle Zask from Marseille University; veteran theater professional and educator Nir Barak; Hebrew University environmental scientist Prof. Yigal Erel; and Amir Balaban from the Jerusalem Bird Observatory.

The municipal authorities are clearly on board and doing their bit to push urban regeneration along or, at least, give it a fighting chance.

The Musrara school’s sponsors for the festival include Eden, the Culture Department of Jerusalem Municipality, the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and the Jerusalem Development Authority.

The inclusion of non-Israeli artists in the program also offers the public the chance to gain a new perspective on familiar surroundings. One such is Italian multidisciplinary artist Francesca Fini, who brings a wealth of experience in TV production, digital art and documentary filmmaking to her output.

“Francesca Fini came to Musrara for a two-month residence about six months ago,” Marcus explains.

“She created a work in Jerusalem, in which I also participated. We also exhibited works together in Berlin.

What is fascinating about her work that will be shown in Hivhuv is the way she experienced Jerusalem in different places around the city as a tourist.”

Ekici and Marcus’s work Fossils addresses the fine balance between industrial progress and the natural environment. It is a video work which the pair created a couple of years ago in the former coal mining town of Saarbracken near Germany’s southwestern border with France. The spot has plenty of historical vibes to it.

“There are all these leftovers from the mines, black stones, which form a hill, which the authorities turned into a park,” Marcus relates. “Nezaket and I took buckets of the stones into man-made caves there, which were used by locals for over three centuries. Inside one of the caves there is a bed that we lie on, after pouring the stones into a couple of machines which then bury us with the stones. Our work is connected to urban renewal and to humans and nature, and homes and people.”

There will be a lot of that going on over the three days of the festival, and it should be interesting to observe the artistic-cerebral interface with the reality on the Jerusalem ground and whether, indeed, art can actually make a difference to the physical quality of our urban lives.

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