Tuesday, 13 April 2010
It seems surprising that there are still areas within the art world that remain untouched, and barriers that remain unchallenged. Israeli art comes in to this - Tel Aviv, despite having a booming tourist industry and attracting visitors for its diverse city life, has an art scene that is yet almost unrecognised. JaffaCakes TLV is a new exhibition in London that is going to start making a few changes as it holds the first group show of Contemporary Tel Aviv Art in the UK, and it opens this week in Hoxton.
It was during Frieze week last year, that the three curators: Yasmine Datnow, Maia Mogensztern and Lara Wolfe started dabbling with the idea of JaffaCakes TLV. Frieze highlighted the problem for them, that there was so little knowledge of Tel Aviv artists despite the US interest in the last couple of years, there is still a very long way to go. This idea started as a small exhibition proposal they expected to turn around in three months and show in a flat. They had no idea of the enormous interest the idea would attract. The support received has taken this idea off the ground, and after nine months of organizing, the exhibition is taking place in a Hoxton gallery as a pop up show with a catalogue.
The starting idea was very abstract – part of the problem for Tel Aviv artists is the lack of access to information, with very little having been written about the art scene and the texts that there are being written in Hebrew. The curators had to do a lot of their own work when researching artists – life was nothing like as simple as picking up a catalogue and flicking through. The publication that will be printed alongside JaffaCakes TLV will therefore act as a resource in English for the future.
The curators are very aware of the big responsibility they have taken on with this exhibition. However, they also recognize that as long as they do the artists justice in the curation, the work will speak for itself. They took three months to research artists, in search of those who are relevant to the now. Most of the artists do not currently have gallery representation, and so this exhibition is really exposing the Tel Aviv art scene right now at this moment in time. By taking the work of these artists out of Tel Aviv and to the UK, they are opening up this art scene to a wider audience, but as a result also taking the focus back to Tel Aviv.
When people consider Israeli art, it is probably inevitable that the majority will decide that the work will be political. Undoubtedly, the political life these artists have grown up in will effect the way they consider themselves and their surroundings, but the new generation is interested in expressing something other than solely politics, the work of these artists is more dimensional.
The exhibition title, JaffaCakes TLV? - Jaffa is one of the oldest ports in the world and yet, is now at the centre of Israel’s fringe culture – this contradiction suggests the playful nature of Tel Aviv.
The curation of this exhibition was inspired by Etgar Keret – a renowned short story writer and Camera D’Or winner. Keret’s short stories are set in the heart of Tel Aviv – within the streets and lives of ordinary people; throwing this familiarity in to question with moments of irregularity. It is this feeling of Keret’s that the artists in JaffaCakes TLV explore and his unpublished short story, ‘What of this Goldfish would you Wish?’ will be published in English especially for the Jaffa Cakes catalogue, with a short film shown in the exhibition as well.
The JaffaCakes TLV artists are exciting and will undoubtedly catch attention. One to watch; Know Hope. One of the younger artists of the group at 23, this street artist is interested in interventions in the street and site-specific installations in the gallery. Know Hope places cardboard cutouts in urban environments that play with the idea and performance of giving. This artist is not currently represented by a gallery, but the attention around him is growing and there is a definite buzz about his work.
It is clear a lot of work and enthusiasm has gone in to this exhibition, and it is all pointing in the right direction that it will succeed in what it has set out to do. It opens this week with its preview on Thursday evening; you heard about it on Art Licks, but now go see it in Hoxton.
Artists: Maya Attoun, Michal Helfman, Nogah Engler, Know Hope, Yochai Matos, Naama Tsabar and Mika Rottenberg
Jaffa Cakes Website
Preview: 15 April, 6-8pm
Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-6pm, or by appointment
16 April –15 May 2010
Image: Know Hope, Protecring Ourselves From The Times With The Times.