I was originally going to do another art blog on a current exhibition, here in Jerusalem. However, I realized that perhaps we could all stand to read one piece about Jerusalem as an arts community- because, it is.
I have traveled to cities around the world with renowned visual art galleries. I myself have been an artist, arts patron, donor, volunteer and administrator in the arts industry. Jerusalem is by far the most unique arts community I have ever seen.
Yet no one knows this. Major cities are known for specific things. For example- when I say “Paris”- you think café life, fromageries and The Louvre- right? When I say New York, London, Moscow- there are immediate associations that come to mind. Yet when I say “Jerusalem” most people think about religion or the conflict… This is really not okay with me.
I once wrote a piece on Jerusalem being the holy and profane, where the secular and religious meet. Art is both. It is the language of expression and often without words. We are inundated with words at a rapid pace, where it can barely be digested. We read, we listen, we converse, we write and respond. Jerusalem can get pretty noisy, but there are some quiet spaces if you know where to look. They are sacred and sleek. They are quiet and speak in an unspoken language.
Art is a moment in time. Art forces us to stop what we are doing. Art asks us to leave our smartphones alone. I thought I understood more about Judaism, the conflict and Israel, than most people. Yet our understanding of these components is through our own personal lens. Art is the only tool that can break the lens. My lens is broken every week I venture out to view the latest exhibitions here.
If you are visiting Jerusalem or you are a resident here, I encourage you to learn more about the people who inhabit this place, the culture; the day-to-day experience that shape a person’s life. There is a softer side to Jerusalem. There is also a prickly, dark and ugly side to Jerusalem. Let me introduce you to Jerusalem. The one you have never met before; the Jerusalem that takes on all the beauty, the pain, the controversy and the innovative brilliance that the world does not see.
My friends who visit here tell me I have a different Jerusalem than the one they have seen. My Jerusalem is not the tour of the Kotel tunnels, the Temple Mount or the Machane Yehuda Shuk (but that is so awesome). My Jerusalem is my favorite galleries, The Artist House and Al Ma’mal. They are my sacred spaces and they are my holy sites. Sitting in HaMiffal (The Factory- it has performance art and a one dish meal offered daily) is as religious of an experience as anything else here.
Allow me to encourage you to go on a gallery-hop, a walking tour of the contemporary art galleries in Jerusalem. CAIJ- Contemporary Art in Jerusalem is a valuable source connecting people to art here in Jerusalem. CAIJ is the intermediary and I for one believe in the necessity of arts advocacy. I coined the term “Arts Advocate” for myself shortly after my Aliyah here. I bring people and art together.
This is my suggested hit list for those who want to something different for a change:
Step outside your comfort zone. Be provoked, be soothed, be comforted, and be disturbed.
Naggar Photography Gallery