At first-ever Jerusalem biennale, Jewish art goes from old-world to avant-garde

16 Sep

From a modern-day spin on ‘Chicken Little’ to works by Haredi women artists, the Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art presents various displays of cutting-edge Jewish creativity.

By Danna Harman for Haaretz

Jerusalem Biennale

Andi Arnovitz’s beads, on view in Jerusalem. Photo by Avshalom Avital

Jewish art is not hip. It can be beautiful, sure. It can be meaningful, of course. It can be valuable, no doubt. But cutting-edge? Current? Cool? Meh.

If you believe that, you clearly have not yet been to the first-ever Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, which opened this week at five venues around town, with the participation of more than 50 artists showcasing a panoply of visions of what contemporary Jewish art can be.

“Don’t get me wrong,” begins Ram Ozeri, the 33-year-old mastermind behind the biennale and one of its seven curators. “It’s not that I don’t love menorahs or Torah scrolls,” he says, referring to the kinds of images that, along with pomegranates, dancing Hasids and the walls of Jerusalem, often come to mind — and with good reason — when the words “Jewish” and “art” combine.

“But this is something different.”

Take the work of Kansas City, Missouri-born Andi Arnovitz, 54, a firecracker of a former graphic designer, who moved to Israel with her high-tech wunderkind of a husband and five children — becoming religious along the way — 14 years ago.

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