Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art Opens Sunday

“Human Rights – The Forsaken and Forgotten” by Marleene Rubenstein, Nancy Goodman Lawrence, Renee Amitai and Doni Silver Simons / Flashpoints

The 3rd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, which will showcase the work of nearly 200 professional artists, Israeli and international, in dozens of exhibitions and installations in eight venues around the city, will run from October 1 through November 16. The Jerusalem Biennale, which explores the places where contemporary art intersects with the Jewish world of content, will take the concept of Watershed as its theme.

According to founder Rami Ozeri, “The Jerusalem Biennale provides a stage for professional artists – from secular to ultra-Orthodox – who refer in their artwork to Jewish thought, spirit, tradition or experience. After two successful Biennales and invitations to exhibit contemporary Jewish art around the world, the Biennale will throw the spotlight onto the concept of watershed, examining it from a literal, metaphorical and even historical perspective. The theme finds its expression in issues as varied as Jewish identity, immigration and refugees, alongside watershed moments in history such as the Balfour Declaration and even the US presidential election.”

Several exhibitions and projects entitled People on the Move explore the watershed and life-shaping experience of moving from one place to another for individuals as well as communities – be it a proactive decision to emigrate, make aliya or yerida, or a forced decision to find refuge. Among the various exhibitions:

  • Dreamland Never Found, in which artists who emigrated from the FSU as children, address migration from the perspective of a longing for childhood memories. Dreamland explores the artists’ desire to uncover their individual and collective roots and search for a past which ultimately is nowhere to be found. Curator: Maria Veitz.
  • Homelands explores artists’ reflections on one of the defining watershed moments from the last century: the disbanding of Jewish communities throughout the Muslim world, presenting this issue from both a personal and communal perspective. Curator: Dr. Meirav Balas.
  • 585,000 m2 features Hungarian artists who reflect upon symbolic spaces found in the 7th district of Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, through visual art statements from the pre-World War II period to the present day. Curator: Andrea Ausztrics.
  • Mamzerim an exhibition in which four Israeli artists explore the painful realities of Judaism’s “untouchable” caste, probing the very heart of the complex relations between state and religion in Israel.

The Biennale will also host an American Pavilion with three exhibitions hailing from the States:

  • Flashpoints: A Collective Response, a collaborative exhibition from the Jewish Arts Initiative of Southern California that highlights America’s fractured soul, exposed subsequent to the US presidential election.
  • Jerusalem Between Heaven and Earth, from the Jewish Art Salon in New York City addresses watershed issues related to Jerusalem and its topography.
  • Jerusalem Artists in the New World, in which three artists from Dallas Texas explore the watershed moment of Judaism’s arrival into the New World.

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The Jerusalem Biennale is supported by The Leichtag Foundation (San Diego), The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund (New York), The Lambert Family Foundation (New York), Matthew Bronfman and IKEA Israel, The Leir Charitable Foundations and private donors, as well as The Jerusalem Municipality and The Jerusalem Development Authority.