Work in progress

A three-day avant-garde art festival in Tel Aviv seems very much in tune with the spirit of the protesters in nearby Rothschild Boulevard

Violinist Hed-Yaron Meirson (photo credit: Courtesy)
Violinist Hed-Yaron Meirson
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Nisuy Kelim (testing the instruments) – a three-days-long informal avant-garde festival is taking place for the eighth time in Tel Aviv, not very far from the protesters tent city.
Those who prefer to stick to the old and tried art probably should avoid dropping in. But if you are looking for something really fresh and special don’t miss this opportunity to meet the works of young and daring Israeli artists.
The festival programs feature such exotic pieces, as a duo for a “regular” and blind dancers, a Macbeth Cabaret opera by Anna Segal, a dance show for a pregnant woman, and another one - Four Monkeys in a Search of God, to name but a few. All in all, 30 premiers, art biennale, 80 participants, and all for hardly any money.
“This is a festival for works in process,” explains the festival’s artisticdirector, and actor and stage director, Gil Alon. Alon, for whom this is the second year in this position, accentuates these are not “half-baked presentations, just the contrary – they are all self-sufficient. The length of the performance is limited to 30 minutes, and the artists are later able to develop their works in every possible direction, to make them longer and deeper.”
Asked about the festival highlights, Alon firmly says there is none: “All the pieces are my children,” he says. “And all possible genres are presented here, be it theater, dance, dance theater or movement theater, puppet theater, video art, video singing, installations, painting, street shows, sculpture. You name it.” The plastic arts are presented at the Youth Center, while the performing arts – at Beit Tami.
But what is the idea behind the festival? Isn’t it just another fringe presentation? “Far from that,” says Alon. “There are so many exceptionally talented people throughout the country, who create their works in unsuitable conditions, like attics. Being selected for the participation in the festival, artists receive a rehearsal space and a disclosure to wider audience and their colleagues. Later, some of the pieces continue to the Acco Fringe Festival, while others start their independent existence.”
One of the festival participants, violinist Hed-Yaron Meirson will play a Street Musician, a piece by a young Israeli composer Ronen Shay.
“I love this piece and I already won the prize for the best performance of an Israeli piece when I performed it at the Aviv Competitions half a year ago,” says Meirson. “This is a partly programmatic music, which tells a story of a street musician and of how he deals with his audience and with himself in this situation.”
Ronen Shai says the piece, which was composed in 2005, was inspired by a real street musician, whom he used to meet in Tel Aviv.
Ronen recollects, that he never saw this elegant and not-so-young man playing – he just held his violin pensively and despairingly.
Meirson suggests his performance will be slightly staged, he will start playing at Beit Tami and then will go out to Shenkin Park. “And I’m dying to see what happens next – how the passersby will react, will they stop to listen to the entire piece or not. And I will probably improvise.”
Amazingly enough, Meirson’s attraction to music started in the streets of Tel Aviv. He was born in 1989, three months before the Berlin Wall fell, at the time when thousands of Russian immigrants flocked to Israel. Meirson, who spent the first three years of his life in the heart of Tel Aviv, used to see numerous street musicians, playing those days on Dizengoff Street, one of the city’s major hubs for street performers.
“Now I think that many of them were violin professors,” he adds.
“Anyway, this was when I realized that I wanted to become a violinist myself.”
“Nisuy Kelim” – a three-day informal festival, takes place at the Beit Tami Cultural Center at the Shenkin Community Center, Tel Aviv and Youth Center (Merkaz Ha’tzi’irim) at 9 Ba’aley Melakha St., August 16-18, For more details: or by phone: (03) 528-8827/9.