Grapevine: Changes at the TA Museum

News on TA Museum director candidates.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
■ JUST OVER a month ago, when advertisements were published calling for applicants for the position of director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, rumors began flying that the contract of present incumbent Suzanne Landau, which expires at the end of this year, would not be renewed. Landau, who was a leading curator at the Israel Museum for 34 years, took up her current position in September 2012, although her appointment, following an eight-month search had been announced some months earlier.
Landau began her career as the personal assistant to Martin Weyl, who was the predecessor of outgoing Israel Museum director James Snyder, and who had worked closely with the Museum’s founder, Jerusalem’s legendary mayor Teddy Kollek. In Tel Aviv, Landau succeeded celebrated art historian Mordechai Omer, who held the position from 1995 until his death in 2011.
Last week it was announced that interviews with the 11 suitable applicants had begun and would be narrowed down to the three finalists found to have the best qualifications. Such qualifications, in addition to a vast knowledge of art in its many ramifications, include skills in foreign languages, connections with the global art world and fund-raising abilities, to name but a few of the prerequisites.
■ FREEDOM OF expression has been bandied about to an extraordinary degree in recent weeks, most specifically involving the censorship of art by Shenkar College president Yuli Tamir, who is a former education minister; the attempted censorship by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman of Army Radio’s university program in which it aired the poetry of Palestinian poet laureate Mahmoud Darwish, and most of all, accusations that Prime Minister and Communications Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to control Israel’s media, which is allegedly why he decided to defer the launch of the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, which was due to replace the Israel Broadcasting Authority on October 1.
Politically, Tamir, a leftist who was one of the founders of Peace Now, is completely at odds with Netanyahu and Liberman and their ilk. Essentially, she believes in freedom of expression – but within limits. One of the works in an end-of-year student exhibition featured a nude likeness of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Although there may be very little on which Tamir and Shaked agree, Tamir thought it vulgar and insulting to portray the attractive Shaked as a sex object, implying that she used her sexuality to advance her political career.
As someone who endured similar rumors, Tamir, who was a brilliant academic before becoming an MK, and who is fully aware that Shaked’s rise in politics was due to her skills and opinions, decided to take action and ordered that the face in the figure be blacked out. The decision cast her in an extremely negative light, but aside from the possible legal repercussions that may have resulted from leaving the work of art intact, Tamir saw it as tasteless and an attack in general against women in public life.