Since the late 1980s, and more so, following the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, a shift has transpired, known as a ‘Jewish Renaissance’. This is seen through - secular Midrash and T’filah houses; pluralistic Judaism; Traditionalist- Mizrachi discourse; religious art schools, and more.
Changes are also noted in the Israeli art field. Although the field has addressed Jewish themes since its inception, it is only in recent years that Jewish work has received more recognition. For example -The Adi Foundation Competition for Jewish Expression, 2001-2008; Matronita: Jewish Feminist Art, 2012, Tosaphot, 2013; Thou Shalt Not, 2017. Subsequently, these shifts have led to the emergence of a distinct practice of contemporary Jewish art (CJA).
The Jerusalem Biennale (JB), dedicated to exploring the space where contemporary art meets the world of Jewish content, inaugurated in 2013, has become a world stage for CJA, as well as a platform for Israeli contemporary Jewish artists. This lecture will focus on the work of Porat Solomon, Let Three Be Firmament, 2013, and Guy Briller’s Holy Ark, 2010, exhibited at JB2013.
The former, a video installation, depicts three male Breslav Hassidim, painting a cloudy blue sky, on an old flat decrepit rooftop in Tel-Aviv. On completion, the Hassidim spontaneously dance in their unique Beslav style.
Holy Ark, is comprised of two parts– a hollow metal framed object, designed to the dimensions of ‘The Holy Ark’; and a four-screen video installation. Each screen reveals a different angle of the Holy Ark, parading through the streets of Givat Ram, confronting the Israel Museum, Knesset, and Supreme Court.
In this paper, I argue that Solomon and Briller’s fictitious, imaginary encounters between Jewish and Israeli identity, not only enables dialogue to emerge, and questions to be raised, but also attempts to repair the relationship between the two sects, such that they coexist, rather than dismiss each other.