Causing a scene

Curator Aya Lurie explains the inner workings of the Herzliya Museum’s ‘Scene of Events’ exhibition.

WORKS BY Nurit Yarden (left) and Oded Balilty are featured in the exhibit. (photo credit: Courtesy)
WORKS BY Nurit Yarden (left) and Oded Balilty are featured in the exhibit.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A compelling group exhibition is much like a good orchestra; each artist’s piece of work must be able to stand on its own, but also fit within and contribute to the cohesive whole. Director and chief curator Aya Lurie has accomplished this difficult, harmonious feat with the Herzliya Museum’s newest exhibition, Scene of Events.
The exhibition features nine different artists in nine different solo exhibitions, working through various mediums – some photographers, some sculptors – and yet with a connecting theme that acts as a binding agent: our collective consciousness and how it is informed by the landscapes of inner and outer events. Some of the artists offer suggestive or more abstract images, while others tackle a particular incident and seek to showcase it through the camera or sculptural element. Featured artists include Micha Ullman, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, Oded Balilty, Avraham Hay, Nurit Yarden, Hadar Saifan, Sharon Poliakine, Haimi Fenichel and Eldad Rafaeli.
Lurie sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss the hardships and highlights of curating such an extensive exhibition, which dares to represent the timelessness of events and their impact on us all.
What was the impetus to showcase Scene of Events?
It works simultaneously as a group show and as single exhibitions. Each artist had their own state of mind and topic that they were investigating for several years. I integrated into their work and elaborated. It’s wonderful how it works together as a group show and as individual, solo shows. Some of the artists are photographers and some work with installations, so it combines the material and the immaterial. But all together, it’s about observing our landscape, our place and our homeland.
Would you say that that’s the theme that connects them all together?
Yes, it’s actually going through our landscape, but it’s not only through the lens of news and what’s happening now; it’s a more deep and introspective notion of the idea of land or a place. It’s going to the inner level of complexity, violence, victims and continuous changes. The landscape is not static; it is always adding and changing. All of that together, through the sense of the sand and the land and the material of the place. That’s the actual subject of the entire group show.
Is it a diverse group of artists?
Definitely. There are nine all together, both female and male. All of them are Israeli. For some, it’s their first time exhibiting in a show, like Hadar Saifan, who comes from Kibbutz Dafna in the North, and then we have Micha Ullman, who is one of the most celebrated and known Israeli artists. He’s won the Israel Prize and has been showing his work since the 1980s. So it’s quite a range, but also this mixture of photography and sculpture, which is quite disharmonic because it’s combining totally materialistic with something that is completely non-material; pixels and light. All of the photographers utilized a direct view, meaning no Photoshop or computer manipulation. That’s another important element.
What was it like for you as a curator to manage these nine artists and put their work together in a way that was cohesive but also allowed them to shine individually?
First of all, I had Gilad Reich, who was the curator of the stone exhibition, so I did have a guest curator. Also, I invited several important figures and curators to contribute text to the different projects, in order to provide cohesion. So I joined forces, but it was a demanding venture. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with such exceptional artists. A lot of dialogue and involvement was required; that’s how you do it. It’s like having an orchestra in front of you.
What has the reaction been like from visitors coming to the museum?

I’m very happy and surprised at how many people are coming. The exhibition has been received very well. It’s made a strong impact already. The artists are reflecting back these complex images of place and time and it’s resonating with people.
What do you hope that people who come to see Scene of Events will walk away thinking and feeling?
It’s important for me for people to recognize and realize that the museum is an important place that is part of the culture of our times. Not enough people know about the Herzliya Museum and not enough people are visiting museums of contemporary art on a regular basis. I feel that the same way they’re consuming books and film, they should consume art. Actually, that’s the mission. A museum allows for the possibility of complex discussion. It’s a meeting place for the mind, the eyes and the heart.
To find out more about the exhibition, visit: https://www.herzliyamuseum.co.il