A digital daydream debuts in Tel Aviv

The first annual Contempo Festival shows that there is more to the Israel/EU relationship than just trade and diplomacy.

rooftop routine 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy )
rooftop routine 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy )
Founded in 1909, Tel Aviv turns 100 this year. To celebrate, the European Union (along with the Tel Aviv Municipality's cultural division) decided to throw it a party in the best European tradition possible - with an interdisciplinary music and video art festival. Hundreds of artists from the fields of digital, video and sound arts as well as interdisciplinary and contemporary musicians, are set to participate in the first ever Contempo Tel Aviv International Festival of Contemporary Music and Video Art, taking place in a number of venues around town. Sound&Vision, a video art exhibition featuring some of Europe's major digital artists, is one of the first installations to open as part of the festival, housed at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. "Tel Aviv has always been in sync with Israel's cultural avant-garde," says Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, regarding the nature of this exhibit as part of Contempo. "Appropriately, Sound&Vision is synonymous with the cutting edge of contemporary European endeavors and is in step with the digital world of the 21st century," she says. "The diversity represented reflects the diversity of the European Union itself. Israel and the EU are in constant dialogue. This exhibition symbolizes the importance we attach to our relations, not only in the field of diplomacy and trade, but also in the field of art and culture." Video art often comes off as the most pretentious form of art. Someone films a chair over a set period of time. The artist claims that the chair represents the decay of society and, voila, art is made! Having attended the exhibition's opening, it becomes immediately apparent how ludicrous this notion actually is. Video art requires patience. If given the chance, it can accomplish art's most vital role - touching your inner thoughts and most sacred emotions. Sound and vision both engulf you, encompassing your entire world, regardless of the artist's original intent. Two operas also premiere as part of the festival: Me with text by Lea Goldberg, music by Kiki Keren Hoss and performed by Nova Music Group at Hateiva in Jaffa and An Index of Metal, an opera and video work with music by Fausto Romitelli, video art by Paulo Pachini and performed by The 21st Century Ensemble at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Levontin 7, one of the city's premier venues, hosts The Unexpected Night, in which Israeli and European musicians play folk, rock, modern, classic and noise music. In the field of electronic music, the c.sides festival, previously held in Jerusalem, makes the switch to Tel Aviv's Kalif club. Among the artists performing are the eight man group from Denmark Efterklang - with their dreamy sound of folk, rock and electro, the French trio dOP - who combine hip-hop, swing, techno and jazz and, from Germany, the house music DJ Murat Tepeli. "The artists coming are a great introduction to electronic music," says Tepeli, one of the most innovative of electronic musicians on the current scene. "People say the music I create is old school, influenced by the original sounds of house. As a kid I used to listen to my sister's house music tapes. which evoked pure feelings that moved from sadness to joy and happiness. I hoe to bring that to the audience." Contempo takes place on February 12 to 14, 19 to 21 and 26 to 28. The Sound&Vision exhibit runs from February 6 to March 8. The events listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. For more information visit contempo.co.il