Life in Israel provides inspiration for 23 artists in this wide-ranging exhibition.
Over the nearly 60 years since the founding of the State of Israel, people outside the country, informed mainly by media accounts, see it primarily as a place of conflict. What does this mean for contemporary art about Israel?
Contested land, religious ideology, and the rights and needs of Israelis and Palestinians are concerns that artists negotiate as they seek to portray a nation often divided against itself as it outgrows the utopian model of its settlement and statehood. Photographers and video artists were among the first to react to events such as the second Intifada, a wave of violence and political conflict which began in 2000 between Israel and the Palestinians. Comprised of 48 works by 23 artists, Dateline Israel: New Photography and Video Art presents powerful reportage, evocative landscapes, formal portraits, quickly composed snapshots, and video. Sixteen of the artists are Israeli and seven come from other parts of the world, reflecting the growing emergence of Israel as a subject of widening interest among artists.
National identity and geographical conflict are explored in the work of Amit Goren, Miki Kratsman, Boaz Arad, and Yaron Leshem, each offering a singular perspective on the Israeli political system. The photographic work of Michal Heiman confronts the realities of terrorist violence. Layers of meaning in the land itself—its sacred sites and contested zones—are embedded in the landscape photography of Wim Wenders, Sharon Ya’ari, and Ori Gersht, each exploring the ways in which human intervention has altered the terrain. While Wolfgang Tillmans provides a new vision of the dense urban cityscape of Tel Aviv, Mark Wallinger seeks to illuminate centuries of complex history that impact venerated sites in Jerusalem. The security barrier between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is featured in photographs and video art by Noel Jabbour and Catherine Yass, who link the artistic act to political awareness. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a subject for Pavel Wolberg, Rina Castelnuovo, and Miki Kratsman, whose photographs convey moments of paradox and social tension in the lives of Israelis and Palestinians. Portraits by Rineke Dijkstra and Gillian Laub bring a human perspective to individuals caught up in long-term political strife.
Dateline Israel: New Photography and Video Art reveals a country in flux that only a multiplicity of perspectives can bring into focus. While this exhibition may reinforce the impression of a place where conflict can overwhelm daily life, the photographs and videos in this exhibition also offer a richer and more nuanced view.