‘Midbar’ art exhibit brings the desert to life at the Beresheet Hotel

The exhibition is spread across 50,000 square m. of hotel grounds, both inside and outside of the Negev Desert and the Ramon Crater.

 ‘PASSAGES’ BY Enatnesh Yallow.  (photo credit: Shira Silkoff)
‘PASSAGES’ BY Enatnesh Yallow.
(photo credit: Shira Silkoff)

When you hear the word “desert,” the first thing that comes into your head isn’t usually “art exhibition,” but a trip to Mitzpe Ramon to see the new Midbar exhibition at the Beresheet Hotel might just change that for you.

The exhibition is spread across the 50,000 square m. of hotel grounds, both inside and outside, dotted around the landscape overlooking the breathtaking views of the Negev Desert and the Ramon Crater.

Comprised of sculptures created by 13 different artists, all handpicked by exhibition curator Sharon Toval, Midbar is set to remain at the Beresheet Hotel for the next three years and explores the desert, both as a place but also as a concept.

The Ramon Crater

The Ramon Crater was once part of the bottom of the Tethys Sea, more than two hundred million years ago. As the millennia passed and the sea receded, the crater started forming, with the bottom of it deepening much more rapidly than the sides. Today, the crater is 500 m. deep and is classified by Israel as the country’s largest national park.

 ‘MILKY WAY’ by Sima Levin. (credit: GUY YECHIELY) ‘MILKY WAY’ by Sima Levin. (credit: GUY YECHIELY)

It is this crater that drove the inspiration behind the exhibition – which includes items that speak of the historical impact of the area, as well as the social and cultural impact that it has to this day.

Avner Sher

One artist who drew inspiration for his piece from the history of the crater is Avner Sher. Using rocks that already existed at the location, Sher layered sheets upon sheets of material, which he inscribed with texts from ancient languages, over the rock, creating his mixed media piece Illumination.

 THE BERESHEET HOTEL. (credit: ASSAF PINCHUK) THE BERESHEET HOTEL. (credit: ASSAF PINCHUK)

Discussing his piece, Sher explained that he wanted to reflect on the great civilizations that walked the earth thousands of years before us and the relics and artifacts that they left scattered across the face of the desert for us to find, learn about and uncover their secrets.

Milky Way

Just a short distance down from Sher’s sculpture, Sima Levin created her sculpture Milky Way from red copper plate. Designed in a large spiral, Milky Way takes its inspiration from the magic of the desert and the infinite skies and stars above it, as well as the animals and plants to which it is home. And, just as the crater was formed by the extreme weather conditions of the desert, so too will they impact Levin’s sculpture. Over time, the red copper plate will corrode and dull, blending in with the desert itself.

Moving to the inside of the hotel itself, one can see Enatnesh Yallow’s sculptures on display in the hotel restaurant. Yallow’s pieces tell a story of her own history and culture, of childhood in Ethiopia and the customs passed down to her by her parents.

Passages

In her series of sculptures entitled Passages, Yallow combines the traditional weaving techniques of her ancestors with contemporary ceramic techniques, bringing them together to depict scenes from everyday life in the village of her childhood, including plowing the land and domestic home life. Through the three sculptures in her collection, Yallow connects the past and the present, the traditional and the contemporary.

Midbar is described by exhibition curator Sharon Toval as a “journey into the depths of contemporary human culture.” Toval has been working with the Isrotel hotel chain under which Beresheet Hotel operates, since 2011, creating multiple exhibitions for them, in hotels such as the Orient in Jerusalem and the Royal Beach Tel Aviv.

Part of Isrotel’s Exclusive Collection, the Beresheet Hotel boasts 111 guest villas, scattered around its extensive grounds, 39 of which have their own private pool. Each villa overlooks the landscape of the desert, where the guests can watch the sunset, or sunrise, from the comfort of a private deck.

The luxury hotel, rated 5+ stars by the Israeli Tourism Ministry, blends in seamlessly with its surroundings, complete with sand-colored brick and desert greenery. To complete the desert experience, peaceful Nubian Ibex freely roam the grounds of the hotel and if you wait long enough, you may just find one drinking from your pool.

Although guests are handed a map of all the sculptures in the Midbar exhibit upon their arrival at the hotel, one doesn’t need to look hard to find the pieces. Whether it’s Nobuya Yamaguchi’s Mirage which can be seen from above out of panoramic windows while enjoying a meal in the dining room, or Merav Rahat’s Viewpoint which can be seen from as far away as the highway or from as nearby as the outdoor pool, you’re never far from a piece of art.

The writer was a guest of the hotel.