Art for our sake

Tel Aviv shows off to the world in its multifaceted Art Year.

‘Ariel from blue, red and yellow’ 370 (photo credit: Shunit Gal)
‘Ariel from blue, red and yellow’ 370
(photo credit: Shunit Gal)
In case anyone here hadn’t noticed, the Greater Tel Aviv arts scene is bursting at the seams. That will, presumably, become patently obvious as the city’s Art Year kicks off with the opening weekend events of March 21-24.
The year’s starter slots incorporate various arts enterprises. But possibly more important, the Fine Art & Finance Conference (Artfi), also scheduled for the launch event, is aimed at persuading would-be investors from here and abroad to purchase Israeli works of art.
“It is common knowledge that today, investing in art offers better returns than investing in, say, property,” says Hila Oren, general director of the Tel Aviv Municipality’s Global City Administration. The administration is a municipal and national initiative aimed at elevating Tel Aviv’s global positioning. As the name suggests, there are similar initiatives in urban centers all over the world, which are designed to serve as national anchors that connect their countries to the global market through financial, cultural, academic, political, technological, creative and commercial activity. Naturally, as the Tel Aviv Art Year sets off, the accent is on the cultural aspect of life in the city and its environs.
Oren says that Israel has a lot to show foreign visitors and that we are getting the message across around the world.
“We have amazing stuff going on here, not just in Tel Aviv itself but also in the whole metropolitan area – in Holon, Bat Yam, Ramat Gan and Petah Tikva. We do particularly well in non-verbal areas of the arts, especially in dance and the plastic arts. I think Tel Aviv has made a name for itself around the world,” she says.
Oren is encouraged by the people scheduled to attend the Artfi conference, which will take place at the Habimah Theater on March 21. “The directors of 28 past and current European Cities of Culture are coming to the conference,” she says.
Senior representatives of Sotheby’s and Christie’s art auction establishments will also attend and will enlighten the participants about the state of the global art market and emerging markets in the art world.
“That says a lot,” continues Oren. “That means people are interested in seeing what is going in Tel Aviv. That also means that the doors are opening up to the world and that the foreign press will be here. That reflects a serious level of interest in what we are doing on the arts scene here.”
The pretext for the Art Year project is the municipality’s desire to mark the completion of three major arts-related projects in the city – the swanky new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum; completion of the refurbishment of the Habimah Theater building; and the new section of the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. Last month, the latter was used to host the annual Tel Aviv Jazz Festival.
The program for the coming year includes open days at various museums across the city, the popular Homes from Within event, which this year will take place on May 18-19, and the annual White Night events, which will have an extended format and will focus on the arts. There will also be special residency programs for artists, and support for artists who offer experimental initiatives.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai took a characteristic bullish approach to the Art Year venture. “Everyone is invited to join in the Arts Year: Go to a museum, grab an empty seat at one of the conferences, stroll along our boulevards, go down to the beach,” he says. “Wherever you go in the city in the coming year you will be able to experience Tel Aviv art that is young and feisty, intriguing and, especially, exciting.”
There are numerous arts events opening around the city at and around the start of the Art Year program. The three-week MAZEH Art Project, which is taking place at 9 Mazeh Street, involves a group of young artists living and working together in a building and exploring the creative and domestic possibilities of the space around them. The artists will present sculptures and show what they devised to the public at the end of the project.
Meanwhile, over at Jaffa Port, the March 21 nocturnal “No Wonder” exhibition features another group of young artists who will feed off a range of elements from fanciful domains, such as adventure, time travel, illusion, fairy tales and stereotypes, to produce simultaneously evolving works.
The Art Year program also focuses on the community spirit, so there are several events tailored to that theme. Throughout the year, a number of art and community projects will take place in neighborhoods such as Sheinkin, Neveh Tzedek and Neveh Eliezer, while the “Stories of Yesterdays” exhibition, which will take place at the Neveh Tzedek Community Center on March 22, features a textual and visual documentation of veteran local women residents of a neighborhood that has been almost completely transformed over the last 20 years.
As Oren notes, dance is one of this county’s best arts exports, and the discipline is well represented at the Gaga at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art event, based on the eponymous dance language created by Batsheva Dance Company chief Ohad Naharin.
Other general public-oriented Art Year events include the March 24 AVoid: Twin Cities event on Yehuda Hayamit Street in Jaffa, which is a sort of art-based street party; and the Fresh Paint Contemporary Art Fair and the Talooy Bamakom site-specific theater festival in May. In addition, there will be more conferences and other events designed to draw the world’s attention to the local arts scene.
For more information about the Art Year: