Invisible tanks, reformed zombies and arias

‘Loving Art Making Art’ returns with 34 artworks at Yad Eliyahu this weekend

 THE TANK poised next to Beit HaShiryon, at Yad Eliyahu (photo credit: Uri Weinstein)
THE TANK poised next to Beit HaShiryon, at Yad Eliyahu
(photo credit: Uri Weinstein)

The tank poised next to Beit Hashiryon at Yad Eliyahu will be draped with water-like organza fabric and a photograph by Dorit Figovich Goddard, depicting a hand on which the word “wall” is written, will be screened on the museum’s wall during the upcoming Loving Art, Making Art three-day weekend set to begin on Thursday.

Wearing a gold necklace that sports the word Emet (Truth), curator Ofra Harnam shared that Goddard, an established artist, can create, with seemingly no effort, powerful works that are both playful and hard-hitting.

Harnam and co-curator Tali Ben Nun, who enjoyed a quick cigarette break before we began our walk, created an imaginary axis in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Yad Eliyahu leading from one Eliyahu to another.

Named after Eliyahu Golomb, one of the founders of the pre-state self-defense force the Haganah, the peaceful streets often bear names linked to military history. They include references to the Great War battle of Gallipoli, the Unknown Hero, and elite fighting force the Palmach, which functioned within the Haganah. The axis is meant to lead the visitor from the man of war to the man of God, Jews around the world leave a wine cup for the biblical Eliyahu on the Seder table during Passover.

“We invite the public to get to know the neighborhood through its gardens,” Ben Nun said, “its side paths.”

 THE CURATORS of Loving Art Making Art 2022, Tali Ben Nun and Ofra Harnam (credit: NAAMA BEN YOSEF) THE CURATORS of Loving Art Making Art 2022, Tali Ben Nun and Ofra Harnam (credit: NAAMA BEN YOSEF)

She added that planning is guided by the wish of patrons to be able to see the works within an easy walking distance and so “an interesting transformation for the visitors” would be possible.

Art curator Meital Aviram, who resides in the neighborhood, will reopen Third Floor on the Left during those three days. A living apartment transformed into an art exhibition space.

Opera tenor Assaf Kacholi, another Yad Eliyahu local, delighted his neighbors during the COVID-19 imposed lockdowns by singing arias from his balcony. For Loving Art, Making Art, he will perform at Yagor Meadow during the closing event of the public art weekend, set to take place on Saturday.

Efrat Kedem will erect a public border crossing, which will be a symbolic border between the military-themed section and the zone invoking prophecy. Performing artists Kineret Haya Max and Michal Samama will touch on a painful topic in our real estate-centered times – when the living costs at the first Hebrew city climb higher each month – and drag a metal sign in an invocation of a religious pilgrimage.

“They will drag this metal object,” used by developers to announce their identity at building sites where old buildings are torn down and bigger, more expensive ones, erected. “It will make a lot of noise. They will perform poetic and beautiful postures with a cold metal object that cuts if you grab it,” Ben Nun explained.

When we stop at the meadow, we sit facing a brand new row of buildings. To our side, a yellow bulldozer is leveling an old apartment building. Gabi Kricheli, who built a wooden house around a tree marked for cutting five years ago in Finito, will build nestling houses for birds for this rich and varied public exhibition.

Perhaps fitting for a space reserved for Elijah, the man of God, the words of Matthew 8:20 came to my mind, as I sat under the trees. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

Yad Eliyahu locals do not notice the tank in their midst, artist Uri Weinstien told me.

Wearing cargo pants and a beige-colored shirt, Weinstein worked on this project with his partner, fellow artist Keren Dolev, who wore earrings and a white buttoned shirt. She noted that the tank is the only public artwork currently in the neighborhood. This might change after the weekend as some works made for Loving Art, Making Art are meant, hopefully, to stay put.

“As Israelis,” Dolev offered, “we are flooded with images of tanks, jets and guns. So they are invisible to us.”

“What I do in my work is to follow the idea of getting as much poetic value as possible with as little sweat as possible,” Weinstein offered.

In this work, not only will the tank be covered. Invoking the late artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude who, in 1985, concealed the Paris Pont Neuf bridge for two weeks. A speaker will be placed on site. It will emit a peculiar composition only a selected few will catch at first hearing.

In the IDF, there is a tradition of various battalions singing mess hall ditties during meals. Often crude and funny, they are part of an inner culture of young men placed in stressful situations in combat duty stations. News reports of the military sub-culture depict an odd mesh of stand-up routine and Hassidic-like songs.

For their new work, Weinstein and Dolev asked a musician to offer a mournful, solemn adaptation to these fast tunes called “Osim.” When aired via the speaker, which is placed next to a tank covered in watery, flowing silk-like fabric, the space will be a startling change to everyone, from those who have lived near it for years to those visiting for the first time to enjoy the many activities and guided tours included in the program.

One such activity is the zombie Apocalypse at Bet Tefer shopping mall.

Created by Shahar Marom, the MuZeum will offer guided tours that will educate the public on the zombie outbreak that “took place” in Tel Aviv in the mid-1990s. This fictional history was being created when I visited Marom at the shopping center. The shooting site was a fitting choice for anyone familiar with the Dead Rising survival game, a series of action-adventure games created by Keiji Inafune, which also takes place at a mall.

Wearing a gray baseball cap, sleeveless shirt and blue shorts, Marom explained that the fictional history includes a top-secret mission to bring the dead bodies of Mossad agents back home. After they were placed at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, a scientist attempted to build the perfect agent from body parts: Agent Z. This was the first zombie, which attacked its maker. The scientist became patient zero and unleashed the wrath of the undead on Tel Aviv.

The guides on these tours will be reformed zombies. Survivors of the counter-offensive, now going through a re-education process. For the safety of those visiting Loving Art, Making Art, their mouths will be gagged so they won’t be tempted to devour guests.

“In zombie films, they never deal with the question of what happens to the bad guys,” Marom said, “here, the bad guys are people like us [who became undead] and we wanted to find this aspect.”

“The audience will be introduced to what the zombies are going through when they are being reintegrated into society,” he added, “you will get to see how zombies are taught how to eat again.”

As befitting an Israeli museum about a tragic history, the guided tour will end with a surprising sound to remember those who had given their lives to halt the zombies from taking over.

Keren Katz, who plays the role of a zombie for the production, offered that “the concept of a plague, that we are at the mercy of politics or germs or the world which is coming to its end, makes the apocalypse into something you should experience. But in the world outside of you [externally], so that all these emotions won’t devour you from the inside.”

“It is much better to eat jelly-made brains than the real thing,” she laughed. Then went dancing at the 1990s party to the opening song of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Admission to all events is free. MuZeum was co-created by Sharon Gabay. Tours will be offered in Hebrew to groups of up to 10 people, with each tour requiring an hour of moderate walking. Tours will embark from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., with a new group departing every 30 minutes. For more information and to register online, visit: https://www.hanut31.co.il/en. For an interactive map of all the events on offer for Loving Art, Making Art - and there are many - only in Hebrew, visit: https://viewer.mapme.com/loving-art.