Art in passing

The Kofim Tisha Anashim – literally “Monkeys Nine People” – exhibition will take place in Tel Aviv on September 6 to 8.

Art in passing 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Art in passing 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Twentieth-century expressionist painter Paul Klee once said: “Art does not reproduce what is visible, it makes things visible.” It might follow, therefore, that a work of art cannot be said to be so until it is seen and responded to.
That will not be a problem for the Kofim Tisha Anashim – literally “Monkeys Nine People” – exhibition, curated by Liz Hagag, which will take place at Passage 94 on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, as part of the Year of Art’s “Loving Art, Making Art” three-day program on September 6 to 8.
As an outside venue, the spot offers a clear advantage for artists looking to get their work into the public eye. While most passersby probably don’t make the effort to open a gallery door and make the transition from – well – just passing by, to intentionally stepping into an exhibition space to view a set of works of art, this group show is already out there, on the street.
“Yes, it is a wonderful opportunity for the artists involved to have their work exposed to the general public,” says Hagag, adding that had it not been for “Kofim Tisha Anashim” most of the works might never have seen the light of day. “I contacted artists I know and asked them if they had anything ready in their studio that they wanted to exhibit. You know, it is frustrating for artists to finish a work and not have the opportunity to exhibit it. But that’s often the reality.”
That makes “Kofim Tisha Anashim” an even more welcome event. The title of the show, which incorporates the works of no fewer than 42 artists, is enigmatic in the extreme. What, in the name of Pablo Picasso or even Rembrandt van Rijn, could “Monkeys Nine People” possibly mean?
Hagag professes innocence, and says she got the name from some mysterious, unknown source. “I got a text message, late at night, from a cell number that was identical to mine, other than one digit,” she recalls. “It just said ‘kofim tisha anashim’. It was weird. I tried to call the number back but no one answered. I mulled the words over for a while and then, when the ‘Loving Art, Making Art exhibition came up, I decided it was an apt name to use. I have no idea what it means, but somehow I think it fits.”
“Anyway, I don’t think you necessarily have to explore things and try to get down to the root of the meaning. It’s okay not to understand something fully,” adds Hagag.
In fact, the titular mystery suits the content of the show at the passage. “My studio is there, and every day I come to work like the other artists in the area, and I see we all create things for group exhibitions with some general theme, or by commission for a gallery,” observes Hagag. “‘Monkeys Nine People’ allows us all just to put our works out there without aiming them in any particular direction. Ultimately people find some meaning in your work of art, and it doesn’t really matter what the artist really meant. When I put together an exhibition I don’t set out with the intention of making some bold political, social or existential statement.”
The exhibition features works by 49- year-old Roee Rosen, whose oeuvre addresses the areas of Judaism, Nazism and pornography; 60-year-old conceptual artist Michal Ne’eman; 31-year-old designer Yael Efrati; 53-year-old Romanian-born sculptor Philip Rantzer; and many more. It is a sizable project to take on and one that Hagag says could not have been undertaken without an institutional helping hand. “The Tel Aviv Municipality made this possible. Without its financial and logistical support we couldn’t possibly have organized all this. Also, having 24-hour security means the works of art can be left outside, in the passage, overnight so more people can see them.”
Kofim Tisha Anashim includes paintings, sculptures, photography, video art and installations, and there will be a deejay on hand for those who want to shake a leg or two in between scrutinizing the works on display. That, says Hagag, offers substantial added value, for both the exhibitors and members of the public.
“There will be a deejay at the opening event, so people won’t just come to take a look at the works and move on,” she explains. “At some point they’ll get into the music and start dancing, and that means they will stay within the exhibition environment for longer. You know, normally, people attend an exhibition and then step outside and maybe discuss what they’ve seen. But with this exhibition, because of the inviting ambiance, people will stay there for three or four hours, looking at the works, and dancing and just socializing, and that will enable them to absorb the works more gradually. It will be a different kind of experience.”
Elsewhere, on the first evening of the “Loving Art, Making Art” weekend, museums, galleries and other display spaces will be open until 11 p.m., and there will be street performances at various locations around the city from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. On Friday and Saturday of that weekend, artists will open their studios to the general public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The centerpiece of the weekend is the “Provincial Town” exhibition, curated by Leah Abir and Gilly Karjevski, which will be open on September 6 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and on September 7 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The show addresses the theme of urban public spaces – as a value, a system and a concept – and the works incorporate a wide range of topics and genres. This includes a sound creation by Maya Dunitz, which creates sonar interplay between two very different environments, and an installation by Muhammad Jabli called Jaffa 2030, which envisages the city as a cosmopolitan entity that addresses the cultural needs of all sectors of the public. Others artists who will contribute works to “Provincial Town” include Alona Roda, Hadas Efrat, Tamir Lichtenberg, Meir Tati and Nevet Yitzhak.
Meanwhile, the “Space Shuttle” event, curated by Hila Cohen-Schneiderman, focuses on the artist’s studio both as a workshop and exhibition space. “Space Shuttle” features works by Uri Gershoni, Rafat Hatab, Guy Yanai, Elisheva Levy and Esther Schneider.
In addition to works of art, there will be a number of guided tours around Tel Aviv and Jaffa to places of particular artistic interest. The tours, which will be presented by curators and artists, will take place daily over the weekend and will include artists’ work spaces, galleries, street art and artist cooperatives.
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