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Israel Museum Presents Major Survey of Contemporary Israeli Art from Past Decade
Shahar Marcus, Freeze, 2008, Video, 6 min. Photo courtesy of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and Meidad Suchowolski.
JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, presents a comprehensive survey of contemporary Israeli creativity from the past ten years, tackling what many consider to be the most dynamic decade in the development of modern Israel’s visual culture. Real Time: Art in Israel 1998-2008 explores the ways in which emerging artists have responded to local and global developments during this period and highlights the notably growing international profile of Israeli artists. The exhibition showcases a selection of some sixty works in a range of traditional and new mediums by forty artists, among them Guy Ben-Ner, Sigalit Landau, Adi Nes, Yehudit Sasportas, Eliezer Sonnenschein and Gal Weinstein. Real Time marks the Israel Museum’s contribution to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State.

"Real Time explores the ways in which Israel’s young artists have engaged with the growing phenomenon of the global artistic village,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “These emerging talents are responding to the reality around them, both locally and internationally, without being bound by their immediate historical, cultural, and socio-political experiences.”

Bringing together works by major artists, all of whom have made their mark on the Israeli art scene within the last ten years. Real Time highlights the resonances between local issues and the broader spectrum of global influences. In Israel, this period is remembered for momentous world events, such as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the war in Iraq, as well as local ones, such as the outbreak of the Second Intifada, disengagement from Gaza, and the Second Lebanon War. While little of this art responds directly to these events, some of the works in Real Time express a dread of global catastrophe, alongside a yearning for escape to distant borders – real or imagined – as a kind of indirect response. Others envision fantastic, mythological worlds and wild, primordial, and sublime landscapes.

For contemporary Israeli artists, the focus of their work increasingly is not Israel itself, but rather the larger global landscape. Nor does it necessarily connect with Judaism or Israeliness. Artists who deal more directly with life in Israel today are nonetheless also stretching their local focus to engage with a wider contextual vocabulary in which the daily experience of real time is overtaken by the more cosmic attributes of myth, bible, and religion.

Highlighted works include:
• Sigalit Landau’s large-scale sculptures from Dining Hall (2007), newly premiered at Kunst-Werke - Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, which explore Landau’s powerful – and even beautiful – vision of the End of Days.
• Ohad Meromi’s The Boy from South Tel Aviv (2001), a monumentally scaled sculpture of a adolescent African boy whose sheer presence forces the viewer to confront questions of the place of third-world guests working in Western society and the dissonance between the poverty of refugee life and the contrasting comfort of museums as sanctuaries of art.
• Eliezer Sonnenschein's Landscape and Jerusalem (2007), an intricately detailed painting that employs motifs drawn from Christianity and mythology, as well as grotesque, surrealistic, and sexual imagery in a Hieronymus Bosch-like tapestry of future foreboding.

Sixty Years of Art in Israel - The Israel Museum presents Real Time: Art in Israel 1998-2008 as part of a larger cooperative initiative of six of Israel’s museums, celebrating the 60th anniversary of Statehood and each highlighting the artistic output of a different decade in Israel’s history. This groundbreaking project reveals the creativity and diversity of Israeli art, which in recent years has emerged with increasing visibility on the global artistic landscape. Participating in the project, together with the Israel Museum, are the Ashdod Museum of Art, Ein Harod Museum of Art, Haifa Museum of Art, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Real Time inaugurates this landmark initiative.

Each of the exhibitions in the Sixty Years of Art in Israel series is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue. Real Time comprises a 200-page publication with fifty full-color images, published by the Israel Museum and edited by exhibition co-curator Amitai Mendelsohn. A special exhibition website can be found at www.imj.org.il/exhibitions/2008/realtime/index.html.

Real Time: Art in Israel 1998-2008 is directed by Amitai Mendelsohn, David Orgler Curator of Israeli Art at the Israel Museum, and Guest Curator Efrat Natan. The exhibition is made possible through the generosity of: the Sam Weisbord Trust, Beverly Hills, California; the Palm Beach Friends of the Israel Museum; Steven Chernys, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and the donors to the Israel Museum’s 2008 Exhibition Fund: Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond J. Learsy, Aspen, Colorado; Ruth and Leon Davidoff, Paris and Mexico City; Hanno D. Mott, New York; and the Nash Family Foundation, New York.

The Sixty Years of Art in Israel series is made possible by the Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport, Culture Administration, with support from the 60th Anniversary Celebration Headquarters and additional support from the Israeli Center for Libraries.





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