Some might know the sentence: In Haifa you work, in Tel Aviv you Party and in Jerusalem you pray. It’s true that every city has her own spirit, but many underestimate the strength that lies in Jerusalem through its variety of people. A village feeling in a big city, where people know one another and are easy-going. There is a special atmosphere which places like Bait Alliance help to create. A place not spoken about here yet, as difficult to seize by the amount of divers activities.
We find today a hub of art and culture places that rethink their way of dissimulating art and the interaction with the public. Spaces that interrogate their integration in society. Museums and Art Centres face the problem of being seen as a white cube, a world apart for selected people, so new ideas come up.
On the rooftops in the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo by Majd Zughayer. Courtesy of Al Hoash.
Alia Rayyan, the director of Al Hoash Gallery of the last 2 years, decided to focus their concept on art and social, corresponding in her eyes more to the local need. The event “RE/viewing Jerusalem” is created. Once a year international and local artists work together on a project. The projects aims to make people rediscover forgotten places in Jerusalem and to bring back life to them, thanks to participative interaction between the artists and the public.
When we think about Palestinian art we mostly have in mind pictures of the wall, border controls or destroyed houses in Gaza… We ignore the variety works and subjects artists here treat of. Sure there are politics in Palestinian art, but it goes far beyond the typical pictures we have in mind.
The Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art is a culture centre working against a narrow minded perception of Palestinian art. Regular exhibitions, but also concerts, performances and artists residences create a rich exchange to discover and understand more subjects and ideas that artists deal with. It is a platform to promote instigate, disseminate and create art.
Open Mic Night at Al Ma’mal, 2016. Photo by Aline Khoury. Courtesy of Al Ma’mal Foundation.
Old Commercial Press, The Jerusalem Show VIII, 2016. Photo by Issa Freij. Courtesy of Al Ma’mal Foundation
Looking at the Palestinian side – every two years the Qalandiya International Festival of Contemporary Art (QIF) takes place. Part of it is The Jerusalem Show which is organised by the Al Ma’mal Art Foundation.
The name Qalandiya comes from a refugee camp and checkpoint on the border between Israel and the West Bank. But the festival crosses borders : expanding from Ramallah to Jerusalem, from Gaza up to Haifa and spreading over to Amman, Beirut until London. Qalandiya is a place, symbol of isolation, disconnection and fragmentation. Yet, the QIF challenges this separation in a positive way, by unifying the fragmented geography through visual art/ culture exhibitions and events. It offers a platform for Palestinians abroad and in their home-country to be seen and heard, should it be in the Haifa exhibition “People from the Sea“, “The Sea is Mine” in Gaza or in The Jerusalem Show (JS)… Continue reading
Even though money and infrastructure for art and culture is not flooding, an independent initiative of Jerusalem-based artists (Lee he Shulov and Rinat Edelstein) opens since 9 years the exhibition season with the Manofim Festival.
The festival manages to create a platform of dialogue and collaboration between artists and Jerusalem’s galleries, alternative art spaces and independent cultural centres. In it’s unique way, Manofim gives the public an impressive insight into the rich and mixed art world of Jerusalem.
It is not surprising that the Muslala group, a non-profit organisation connecting art with social emerged 2009 in Musrara, a neighbourhood which has been full of controversies throughout history:
An aristocratic Arabic neighborhood until the fightings in 1948, in the 1950’s populated with immigrants from North Africa and Iraq, considered as a dangerous quarter for its proximity to the border and becoming a kind of slum. Then in the 1970’s the birth place of the Israeli Black Panthers mouvement, protesting against unequality between Ashkenzai and Mizrahi Jews. With artists and art places moving there (like schools and galleries) the situation has changed and Musrara is now a cool place to live in.
Still, the first time I meet Muslala, it is on the rooftop of a shopping mall (Clal Building) close to the Machane Yehuda Market. Continue reading
In an ancient, abandoned house in a side street of Jerusalem, unseen from the main road you bump into „HaMiffal“ (The Factory/ The Endeavor), a project of the artist collective „Bait Rek“ (Empty House). When entering this old building you can’t really define what place this is. In some way it looks private while at the same time it seems to be a communal working place…