Stay and create

HaMiffal’s ArtBnB offers artists a communal residency experience

ArtBnB was a 10-day residency for a group of international artists (photo credit: TOMER ZMORA)
ArtBnB was a 10-day residency for a group of international artists
(photo credit: TOMER ZMORA)

Bed-and-breakfasts used to be the preferred way for travelers to have a homey, quaint experience while away from home. Now Airbnb has taken that idea and opened it up to millions of people around the world. Couple this concept with that of the artist’s residency and you get HaMiffal’s ArtBnB.

Offered in partnership with Eden, the Jerusalem Center Development Company, The Jerusalem Development Authority and Asylum Arts, ArtBnB was a 10- day residency for a group of international artists that turned HaMiffal into a kind of hostel for creativity; an art incubator. To prepare, HaMiffal’s team built a hospitality infrastructure in the form of two dorm rooms to host the group of international and Israeli artists from various fields of art.
“There are a lot of artists who work globally and go from one residency to another. It has become a common platform,” Yuval Yairi, co-director of the ArtBnB project, says. “But a group of artists living in this kind of intense environment, I think is quite unique. I personally was in a residency last year in Denmark for my photography and video art and it was very different.
The HaMiffal team was afraid that the standards were not going to be high enough for people to live in because HaMiffal kept on going; we didn’t close the place for them. But they took it very well. They’re young artists who are used to living in such conditions.”
Yairi and his wife, Noa, worked together as co-directors of ArtBnB. The group of eight artists who were chosen all share an interest in the connection between community and location as their motivation for artistic expression. Participating artists included Matej Frank from Poland, Emma Vilina Falt from Finland, Jasmine Schaitl from Austria, Kimbal Quist Bumstead from the UK, Jenny Yurshansky from the US, Manoel Quiterio from Brazil, Oren Fischer from Israel and Nicolas Sheikholeslami from Germany. The opening event was held on December 23 and featured the director general of the Jerusalem Municipality, Amnon Merhav, to welcome the group of artists. The closing event, including the display of all of the artworks, was held on December 30.
“This is the first time we did this kind of residency program at HaMiffal, so it was an experiment for us,” Yairi explains. “We invited these eight artists from around the world because they are all extremely talented and they have something in common, which is that they are people who have an interest in community and location. They like to study places, even though it’s in very different disciplines. This is something we looked for because at the same time while opening the ArtBnB, we started working on the 100-meter-radius project. This way they would have something to do while they were there and not just pillow fight.”
The 100-meter-radius project found the artists and members of HaMiffal joining together in a process which began in HaMiffal and went outward around the building in a radius of 100 meters, taking in the aspects of the surrounding areas utilizing their particular medium and point of view. HaMiffal itself is ripe for this kind of artistic exploration; situated in between upscale hotels like the Waldorf Astoria on one side and on the other a cemetery and some abandoned buildings.
WATCHING THE various artists interpret the space in their own unique way was an endeavor in of itself.
Yurshansky chose to research the invasive species of plants in the area, a project with which she was involved in her native California.
“This is something she has researched for a long time already and she discovered that some of the plants she found in California are also found here,” Yairi adds.
“She collected plants from our radius and created a piece that’s like an archive of those plants inside HaMiffal.
She also recorded people telling stories about the plants as if they were human beings; talking about the displacement or other things. She compares them with the state of human immigrants and immigration.”
By contrast, Sheikholeslami, the street artist from Berlin, paints using large walls as canvases. His initial task was finding a suitable place to paint within the 100-meter radius, which also involved asking where it was okay and where it was not and gaining permission.
Some works were shown only at the closing event and some are still on display at HaMiffal. Throughout the entire 10 days of ArtBnB, there were master classes and workshops given by the artists that were open to the public. Everyone was also invited to observe and participate in the 100-meter-radius research and creative output, as the small piece of the city was dissected in such a unique way.
“The artists ate together and worked together,” Yairi shares.
“We were really surprised to see how well it worked, how quickly they became involved and were interested in the building and the surrounding environment. There were a lot of creative moments during this time. After the second day already, you could see them working quietly, investigating, and reading historical documents about the place; each one going through their point of view and trying to come up with something that relates to their subject. There was definitely a creative flow from them being influenced and inspired by one another. It was very inspiring also for us to see how people from other countries interpreted our space.”
The plan is to continue the ArtBnB next year, perhaps in another format with longer residencies. For now, the HaMiffal team is looking forward to resting after what was an incredibly successful, collaborative, 10-day residency. In terms of the 100-meter-radius project; it has only just begun. With HaMiffal’s team ripe with artists and creative thinkers, the project will continue to be adapted by other visionaries who relate to the same space in other formats and through varying perspectives.
“When you walk into HaMiffal amiffal now, you can feel the leftovers of the creative energy that was there last week,” Yairi says.
To keep up to date on what’s happening at HaMiffal: