In this month’s issue of Frieze Magazine, their “City Report” section dishes on Tel Aviv, Israel’s second largest city, known to most as the ‘the bubble.’ Nuit Banai, a Professor at Tufts University, and Eyal Danon and Galit Eilat from the Israeli Center for Digital Art, offer their views on a city well-known for its “air of detachment from the ongoing political turmoil, its hedonism, cosmopolitanism and its vibrant art scene.”
Banai frames the city’s carpe diem levity as the only way of coping with the everyday realities of living in the state of war, and describes the city as “an improbable oasis of carefully managed and extremely fragile normalcy.” Despite its café culture and lively art scene, she portrays the art community as surprisingly insular:
With very few foreign artists in residence and virtually no Arab-Israeli or Palestinian artists represented by commercial galleries or shown in museums…debates relating to aesthetic issues sometimes seem to ricochet around the equivalent of a closed-circuit echo chamber.
Attempting to internationalize the art community through the introduction of the curated biennial ART TLV and other not-for-profit contemporary art centers, Tel Aviv hosted the c.sides Festival for Independent Electronic Music and New Media Arts, a cross-cultural festival that took place between independent German, Israeli and Palestinian musicians, artists, activists and organization. However, as writers Danon and Eilat report, the bubble mentality of the community overshadows a potentially exciting and international art scene:
But what can the art scene offer the city during times of political confusion, when only 60 kilometers away war crimes are allegedly taking place? Does art ever burst the bubble?
In the end, a recommended read on a city that fashions itself as the cultural center of Israel and a glimpse into one of the arts community in the Middle East. [Link]
- Lauren Pearson