Shenkar student slammed for exhibit

Art criticized for totalitarian imagery.

Art Exhibit 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Art Exhibit 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A day after Jews mourned the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, an art exhibit at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design has the country’s religious and right-wing communities riled up over its prophecy that a religious revolution will destroy Israel’s modern-day democracy.
While all 77 graduates from the college’s visual communications department have individual projects on display at this year’s annual graduate exhibition, local media has pounced on Yossi Even-Kama’s tendentious portrayal of the rise of a theocratic political system in the years 2020-2023.
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The project consists of four pillars charting Israel’s rightwing revolution. Yearnings for a religious revolt initially result from an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement that the right wing opposes. After much violence and bloodshed, the new State of Judea is founded on the ruins of Israel. On the final pillar calm and peace reign – since people have lost their civil rights.
Even-Kama’s project – which critics say uses Nazi imagery – has sparked anger among those on the Right, who do not appreciate the comparison.
Yesha Council chairman Dani Dayan sees the array of pictures of large military boots and symbols that resemble swastikas as taking advantage of people’s xenophobia.
“I understand that people call it art, but in my view, it is targeted to the most primitive feelings of the public,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “It raises fear and hate toward people who are different from you.”
Itzik Rennert, head of the visual communications department at Shenkar, refuted this view on Wednesday, telling the Post that while the imagery might be totalitarian, it was not specifically Nazi.
“Yes, the design is based on the designs of the 1930s and ’40s, but not necessarily in Germany,” he said. “It was a totalitarian time. The language is familiar, but it’s not the Nazi language, [contrary to] what people are saying.”
Despite intense pressure from both religious and non-religious organizations to remove the exhibition, college president and former education minister Yuli Tamir has refused to take down Even-Kama’s work.
According to Dayan, Tamir – who arrived at Shenkar College about a month ago – is using her new position to carry out her “sectarian” and “onesided” behavior.
“I think the most appalling thing about this is that the person who chairs Shenkar and hosts this hateful display is Yuli Tamir, who was previously the minister of education and was in charge of educating all our children,” he said.
Regardless of the political slant, however, Rennert said the school did not discourage students from expressing their personal views. So long as the projects show proper use of design techniques, he said, student ideas are welcomed at Shenkar.
“From a visual communications point of view, it’s a wonderful work that expresses the student’s views,” he said. ”We are a pluralistic academy. We don’t impose our views on our students, and we definitely allow them to exercise their freedom of speech.
“I can assure you, and I can assure your readers, that if there was an extreme rightwing project, we would also enable it,”Rennert added.
Even-Kama was not available to comment.