Israel’s Shmitta Year: From The Perspective of Artists
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Israel’s Shmitta Year: From The Perspective of Artists

In a modest three room gallery in Jerusalem’s Baka neighborhood, paintings, photographs, sculptures and a video installation by Emunah College lecturers interpret the word shmot, the Biblical command to “release” the Land. Images range from bare Israeli landscapes to a brightly colored Mandela, which you need to squint at in order to see the black forms of camels that create its arched frame.

The works are meant to evoke artists’ conceptions of what is fallow and the freedom implicit in letting go, according to curator Dr. Anat Chen, director of Emunah College’s art program. This Hebrew year, 5775, marks the observance of the ancient agricultural sabbatical in the Land of Israel. The College chose an artistic take on the cyclical event, in contrast to the more commonly heard debates on the loopholes of Jewish law or calls for environmentalism and social justice.

The exhibit also reflects the shifting perspectives of artists with origins in other lands. French immigrant Jacques Fima scouts flea markets for carpets and black and white portraits to create works to expression to the theme of reclaiming what has been discarded. His wife, Gabi Fima, also an instructor at the College, presents a stark and delicate photograph of a rich purple flower bud.

Nir Brandt's painting of Tel Shiloh is an almost abstract rendition of the spare landscape that was once the site of ancient Israelite pilgrimage. It is juxtaposed with a three dimensional miniature by Ayala Lando, which has a papercut of a ship going down into a pale blue sea.

The exhibit was included in the seventh annual Manofim art week, which marks the fall opening of the Jerusalem art season. The exhibition catalogue is included in the October 2014 edition of Zipora, the College’s journal. English translations of journal articles may be obtained by email (omanut99@gmail.com).

Eva L. Weiss is a writer and editor who lives in Jerusalem.

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