So last night I went to this one-night-only art event where they bring together a bunch of artists to install works in an unusual place around a theme–last year it was in a school, on the theme of education, eg. This year it was at the Science Museum at Givat Ram, the theme “Comments on the Israeli Acropolis,” aka the stretch of turf from the Knesset to the original (and still math/science) campus of Hebrew U.

It was really fun to see art at the science museum (which looks like an awesome place even when there’s no art there, especially if you have kids) and to be in the sort of energy that the place has when it’s such a temporal event–tons of people, lots of buzzing, everybody kind of trying to see everything.

There were some nice pieces. Maybe not surprisingly, I was most drawn to the political ones–a several-computer-screen installation about the house demolitions, a whole thing about hummusim (chickpeas) that turned out to be really about cultural appropriation, and the Arab village, Sheikh Bader, on which Givat Ram was built. A guy making molds of the shape of brick out of which the separation fence is build, onto which he wrote Chinese characters and drew little drawings, and sold for a shekel apiece. There was also a room full of “ask an expert,” ie a bunch of bona fide experts on stuff sitting around waiting to answer questions about how weather works, how to raise bees, gourmet food, or whatever. Cute idea but in execution, my friend waited 45 minutes to ask the weather guy a question, and I tried hanging around the Israeli pop culture expert for a bit, but I wasn’t really impressed.

I’m not sure how much attention was given to what art was put where, but there were some interesting juxtipositions, like the commentary on the Israeli pharmecutical industry in the biology wing (that HAD to have been intentional) or the one on illegal settlements in the world map room.

All in all, a fun evening, but I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t a couple of really knockout pieces in the lot. Or even one: plenty of things that were like a B or B+ (and plenty not that good, as always happens) but not any single piece that really bowled me over.

There are a couple of exhibits up at the Israel Museum, on the other hand, that are fantastic. I went on my birthday. This woman Kimiko Yoshida did a series of lush self-portraits in the gear of various traditional ethnic groups (from Yoruba to Yeminite to Chinese to whatever) that took Cindy Sherman several notches higher–besides being beautiful photos, they asked some really interesting questions about–oh, I don’t know. Race, culture, the ego, insider/outsider, all sorts of things. Very chewy.

There was also an exhibit on contemporary Japanese art that was great, and as an interesting counterpoint, Israeli artists’ imagining of Japan and Japanese culture. It included some photographs that made me fonder of Monet than I usually am and a traditional-style Japanese scroll painting except set after a pigua (bomb), that sort of thing.

If you’re in J’lem, definitely get over to the museum before the exhibits close (I think you have most of the year to do that) and you know, the Heara thing should be on again in about a year.

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