Haaretz: So much culture, so little time: Top 5 temporary exhibits now on display in Jerusalem
Published 11:19 15.09.11
Israel’s capital is often scoffed at by cultural enthusiasts when it comes to the arts and sciences: According to the taste-makers, Tel Aviv is the playground of the enlightened and creative, while Jerusalem is old-fashioned and stodgy.
In reality, the Holy City is brimming with thriving academia, culture, research and youth, and Jerusalem’s museums (and other spaces of every variety) host exhibitions and encounters of increasingly high quality. As the year 5771 draws to a close, it can be argued that there has never been a better time to experience the wealth of visual arts and information that Jerusalem has to offer. Below are five of our top picks.
Start-up boot camp
Israel’s uncanny capacities for innovation gets top billing at the Bloomfield Science Museum’sInnovation Ltd. exhibit. From the Epilady leg hair removal device to drip irrigation, “disk-on-key” portable hard drives to cherry tomatoes, Innovation Ltd. covers 50 of Israel’s greatest inventions, but the display and activity series also explores the reasons why Israel is such a hotbed of creative thinking. Varda Gur Ben Shitrit, the museum’s director of science and society, who also is the curator of the exhibit, posited one theory to GoJerusalem.com.
“As a small country, we are constricted in many ways. There are many things we can’t do, so we need to concentrate on other things,” she said.
Kids can put on their thinking caps at an “invention workshop” especially geared for them, and performances and interactive displays are woven through the museum.
Heists and ethno-lenses
The Museum of Islamic Art’s display of exquisite timepieces, many of them creations of the revolutionary 18th century Swiss watchmaker Abraham Louis Breuget, continues to draw thousands, and the museum has, as a result, extended its run more than once.
Stolen from the museum by the notorious thief Naaman Diller in 1983, these objects of art were returned after Diller’s death (his end-of-life confession to his wife brought them home) more than 20 years later.
In an exhibit with a more literal connection to the Islamic world, the museum is also currently hosting a temporary exhibit of Naftali Hilger’s photographs. Hilger visited Yemen six times over more than 20 years to document Yemen’s populace and landscapes, especially the lifestyles of the handful of Jews who remain there.
Take the cooler weather already settling over Jerusalem as inspiration to walk through the downtown neighborhoods in search of art. Although Agripas St. and the Machane Yehuda Market are best known for their bustling variety fresh produce, it’s highly recommended to check out the Agripas 12 cooperative art gallery.
In the market itself, a project called Tabula Rasa, intended to last for at least one year, opens this week, with displays of urban street art, including sculptures made of recycled or “found” materials, graffiti, photography and much more.
The public is invited in the September evenings to watch the artists transform Machane Yehuda’s walls, trash cans and the surroundings into compelling, expressive works. Beit Avi Chai’s Piyyut Festival, an exploration of Judaism’s canon of para-liturgical poetry, meanwhile, includes forays into the market-hugging alleys of Nachlaot, where participants are led on a journey through the seasonal repentance-themed chants of many Judaic sects.
Symbols in the tower
Are you curious about communication? Delve into the mysteries of alphabets, writing and language at the Tower of David Museum, where the temporary Letters and More: Evolution of the Alphabet exhibition tells the story of Jerusalem’s 3,000 years through the prism of textual symbology.
Closing at the end of September, the exhibit includes interactive games, videos and the opportunity to create new systems of meaningful icons. “Many of the languages that are not used anymore [colloquially] are still used in Jerusalem,” Renee Sivan, an expert in the field of cultural heritage and the museum’s veteran chief curator, told GoJerusalem.com. “The Syrian Church still prays in Aramaic, the Greek Church still prays in ancient Greek, the Ethiopian Church in Ge’ez.”
Marclay’s sensitization wind-up
Finally, for film buffs, lovers of the avant-garde, or sticklers for punctuality, an astonishing piece of pastiche, The Clock, is currently on display at the Israel Museum. It took artist Christian Marclay two years create this work, splicing together clips from hundreds of feature films to create a complete 24-hour video that is synced to real-time in the theater. As characters on screen check their watches, hear chimes or glance at wall clocks, it is the same time in the viewing theater.
The Israel Museum is also hosting two complete, all-night screenings of The Clock, free of charge, on September 13-14 and October 18-19. In an interview with BBC2, Marclay called his piece a giant memento mori and spoke about the heightened awareness of time passing.
“That anxiety keeps you, as a viewer, connected,” he said. “You’re spending time being entertained, but at the same time, you’re always conscious of the time that you just spent watching this thing…. This anxiety over time is a universal one, and I think this piece is very much about time passing, about mortality.”