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Memories from an Imagined Space



The coming together of Jewish and Arab artists for a period of joint stay is a particularly complex challenge at this time. Still, the second cycle of the Givat Haviva residency program was launched in January 2024. The residency program offers young artists, Arabs and Jews, graduates of various art institutions in Israel, a period of creativity alongside educational and social activities in the spirit of Givat Haviva. The exhibition presents the projects that the participants of the program worked on during the residency period.

Some of the artists chose to turn their attention to the physical and cultural space of Givat Haviva. Through the findings of their research, they developed works that examine, each in its own way, how the materials, shapes and sounds are used as conductors of meaning. Others chose to focus on questions of personal, gender and cultural identity and on the relationship between body and mind.

The portrait, and in particular the self-portrait, is the most typical means of examining questions of identity. Ashwaq Maree uses her own image in three paintings to present an ideal female figure of strength and beauty - in the external and internal world - with images of a realistic appearance that resemble characters from fairy tales. Baylasan M. Karim presents a double self-portrait that includes her own image alongside the image of her great-grandfather, an intellectual and a writer: he is the source and role model for her as someone who waves the flag of feminism and female power, as she goes back to a story he wrote about a warrior woman/she-wolf.

Self-mythologising and the connection between man and animal can be seen in the sculpture of Obayda Dahly, who presents the image of himself as a centaur, a creature that is half man and half horse. Unlike the warlike ferocity that characterized the mythological creatures, Dahly's character also contains hints of female roles, such as the jar on the head and the winged baby held under his arm, and religious piety represented by the Quran in his other hand.

Woman’s identity in society is a central motif in the work of Hadas Almagor, an animation artist who chose to experiment with the ancient medium of ceramics. In a series of plates on which she imprinted dress patterns and embroideries and line drawings that she created of dressed/naked female figures, she connects different aspects of the worlds of women whose heroism and love meet on the plate.

The body and its pain are a topic that mainly concerns female artists. Eram Aghbarih lets go of all that is repressed, pained and silenced within her, in an extraordinary painting process of exhaling into a bowl of liquid paint. The paint spilled on the canvas without any hand contact creates an abstract, blotchy painting, with a dark, gloomy center.  The gaping, vulnerable and mysterious body preoccupies Malak Manzour, who developed the drawings she made at the beginning of the residency period into sculptures that express a bloody and wild inner world.

A connection between the personal experience and the external reality of the place - Givat Haviva - and the time - war - resonates in different ways in the work of several artists. Jonathan David, a musician, reserve soldier and artist at the studio, collected sounds he absorbed from the places where he stayed during those months and created a piece that is silent when stationary and vocal when it is moved into colliding cross- combinations in a random order.

Noa Kurnick collected items from the environment, from the soil, and built from them a kind of model for a structure, a fragile miniature set that is hanging by a thread. The items allow the viewer to decipher clues from the experiences of the current war and previous wars that emerged from the family memory and the national memory, as passed down from generation to generation in the education system.

Collecting from the surroundings in Givat Haviva, especially objects that were broken, torn, crushed and thrown away was the main activity of Aviv Keshet during her stay.  Placing them in a new context translates them into an old-new story of the transience of time, loss and pain that emerge from the stories of the fragments.

Givat Haviva as a built physical place, as a socio-political ideal and as a temporary home for the individual and the group was the raw material used by Ben Alon, who sought in his photographs for possible connections between the near and the far, between the natural and the industrial, between shimmering light and the surrounding darkness and between innocent blooming beauty and the meaningless ugly remnants of human existence.

Three months of a joint stay of artists who did not previously know each other, who came from different cultures and artistic backgrounds and lived and created in the same space, is a short period of time. Despite this, each one of the artists managed to create new and meaningful works that will surely develop further in their artistic path.

 

Dalia Manor, curator

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