Paint your face and dance

Women, straights, men, gays and everyone else can come together to explore notions of identity, art and partying at Mother.

mother festival 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
mother festival 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
'Woman is the nigger of the world," sang John Lennon in his 1972 song of the same title. We've heard it before, you might say. Sure, women don't have equal rights. No, you don't have to use the 'n' word. But, Lennon continues, "If you don't believe me, take a look at the one you're with." For John, that means his beloved Yoko, who is, as are the others, he asserts, "a slave to the slaves." Womens subservience, the white male points out, starts at home. Noga Inbar, one of the organizers of Mother Festival, which begins this week, agrees with Lennon's sentiments: "The question of women's place in Israeli society is still a relevant one. From the first settlements in this country, women were treated as equals. They worked the fields and went to the army. But Israel is still a patriarchal society. It's as if there was a drug that silenced the problem, hiding it under the surface. Now there is an atmosphere of dominator-dominated and conqueror-conquered. Israel is a country constantly dealing with questions of identity. The Mother Festival examines these issues from the perspectives of gender and sexual identity." Mother Festival is an independent project focusing on contemporary feminine music and art. It takes place at three different venues around Tel Aviv - Levontin 7, Spaceship Gallery and The Block Club - from May 21 to 23. Recalling how she came up with the idea for the festival, Inbar says, "I lived in Italy for seven years. During that time I met Dafna Boggeri who surrounded herself with a network of young female artists. She was a sort of filter for interesting, important voices in the musical and artistic scene. When I got to Israel I realized it's important to bring that scene here. I contacted Dana Ziv and Anat Nir who arrange parties for women and Daniel Sarid from Levontin and got the project going." The festival opens with the Become a Member exhibition at the Spaceship Gallery (70 Hayarkon St.), which explores different methods of interpreting public and private identity. Featured artists include Hamada Attallah with Raafat Hattab and Amir Salamih, Shiri Blumental as well as Electra with Emme Hedditch. Among the works is a special screening of Hedditch's documentary Her Noise, exploring the independent female music scene from a gender and identity perspective. The same night, at Levontin 7 (7 Levontin St.), Karni Postel performs with Efrat Ben Zur, followed by Tamar Eisenmann and New Yorker Kelli Rudick. On Friday, also at Levontin, are performances by Rona Kenan, Yael Deckelbaum, Kat Frankie and Berliner Mariya Ocher and Emily Wells from L.A. Come Saturday, it is, as they say, time to party at The Block (36 David Hahmi St.) with Planningtorock from Berlin, DJ Tami Bibring and DJ Hadas Aberbuch from Israel and many more. "Besides the issues we wish to raise, the festival is just great fun. The performers we're bringing here are among the best in the world. And the Israeli artists are great creators with a unique, strong voice," says Inbar. Anyone familiar with the female art and music scene will easily recognize many of the performers. Some of the artists share their lives with similarly gendered spouses. As such, homosexuality is one of the themes explored in some of their creations. Ziv and Nir, for example, strive to create a sustainable and alternative queer culture. "The festival touches a lot on the subject of queerness, because that's an identity that crosses boundaries," says Inbar. However, "many people who contributed to the festival, such as Sarid or Itay Mautenr, are obviously not women, nor lesbians for that matter. Out motto is, 'Mother is to be shared.'" For more information on the festival visit