Curator of the Musrara Mix Festival since 2010, Sharon Horodi divides her time between Berlin and Tel Aviv, educating and creating art exhibitions and events.
The festival is produced by the Naggar Multidisciplinary School of Art and Society, Musrara, and its 18th edition will be held between May 29 and May 31 at various venues in the Jerusalem neighborhood near the Old City.
This year’s festival includes a wide selection, including a performing arts program titled “Bad Behavior” in which Polish artist Anna Kalwajtys will punch her way into the loaded history of the March 1968 events in Socialist Poland which led to the mass immigration of Jews. These demons of the past will be met in the boxing ring.
The works will include cutting-edge technology, too.
“Virtual reality projects created by students of the school’s New Media department enable visitors to use an Oculus Rift and be taken to a different plane of being,” says Horodi.
Live music shows will be held under the label MusraraSonics – The Electro-Acoustic Program
, directed by Eran Sachs. The music will include unique works in which audience participation is required.
One such project is by harpist Adaya Godlevsky, who will engage the audience with an invitation to draw pictures she will turn into musical compositions and play. Soline de Laveleye (Belgium) and Ragnar Chacin Solano (France) reside in Musrara on a day-to-day basis but contacted the festival wishing to give something back to the neighborhood they now call home. Their work uses an old water well; visitors can come to the water and hear recorded oral histories of people in the neighborhood.
“Our technician actually asked us not to drill in the walls near the water well,” said Horodi, “as they are soaked with water.”
Founded by Christian Arabs and largely abandoned during the war of 1948, Musrara was repopulated by Mizrhai olim, some of whom later created the Israeli Black Panthers movement in the 1970s. The stories people have to share are very diverse and demonstrate how diverse Musrara can be.
The festival takes great pride in being a live event depending to a great extent on the momentary spark connecting audience and performer, storyteller to listener, which is why in 2010 Horodi asked residents to open their homes and display artworks where they actually live and sleep (they did), and why this year Polish artist and owner of the Raczej gallery in Poznan in Western Poland will give a special talk on the importance of the performance in non-free societies like Socialist Poland.
German artists Milena Kipfmüller and Klaus Janek discussed their soundscape project, Sounding Situations, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post
“Sound does not present an image,” explains Kipfmüller, who played the oboe and trained as a classical musician before turning to visual art, “but it has a strong capacity to create imagination. It offers a space to each listener to experience and engage in a collective, creating a moment between us.”
It was a challenge, as well as a great pleasure, to work in Musrara, explains Janek. “Musrara meant to us we really want to get in touch with its people.”
The artists recorded the people they met and the result is going to be played as powerful radio opera.
Without the participation of the Naggar school students the festival would not had been possible. The students work at the information center, help install the works and take part in all aspects of production. They also display their own works.
“One student will combine art and tightrope walking,” Horodi says, making sure I write down that at no point will he be in any danger.
Horodi compares the Mix Festival to a special holiday celebrated annually by the community.
“We want people to benefit from the festival and not to feel it is becoming a burden,” she says, “so things are changing and at the same time it’s an island out of time in a good sense of that word, like an oasis. Even traffic halts, all these narrow roads make it hard for cars to arrive so it’s quieter than other parts of the city.”
As she shares her life between Germany, where she and her husband just bought an old train station that they plan to convert to an art center, and Israel where she is constantly involved with the Musrara Festival, Horodi shared with the Post
a little of her view on immigration and the role art has in it.
“I’m a very optimistic person”, she confesses, “but what I see around me is a collapse. Of course, it might be a very slow collapse, but we are quickly reaching a point in the discussion in which people focus on who is a citizen and who is not, as if that is the bottom line and an end to this very complex issue.”
“But we do have the power to change, and even if the change will not be immediate the only thing we can do is not to give up. There is a bit of power in that and I see the Musrara Mix Festival as a way to put forth a different point of view or add to the balance of the good, connecting people and not disconnecting them.”
The 18th edition of the Musrara Mix Festival will be held between May 29 and May 31 in the Jerusalem’s Musrara neighborhood, at various venues. For more information: www.musraramixfest.org.il.