Two Israelis, the artist Michal Rovner and the writer Etgar Keret, are among this year's recipients of the Chevalier (Knight ) medallion of France's Order of Arts and Letters. The French Minister of Culture and Communications published the list of award recipients ahead of France's national holiday, Bastille Day, celebrated on July 14. Winners are recognized for the quality of their work and the close ties they have forged with the French public.
Annette Levy Willard, the cultural attache at the French embassy in Tel Aviv who congratulated the two, said they were "both artists with a deep commitment to a direct and demanding artistic language."
France's Order for Arts and Letters was founded in 1957 and is awarded to a limited number of artists each year by the minister, marking their outstanding contributions to the fields of art and literature in France and the rest of the world. A number of foreign recipients are included every year. Other Israelis to receive the award in the past include the actor Yossi Banai, the theater director Eran Baniel, the choreographer Ohad Naharin, the writers David Grossman and Amos Oz, and the founder of the Jerusalem Cinematheque Lia Van Leer.
Michal Rovner is a photographer and video artist who has had great success abroad. A graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, she is also co-founder of the Camera Obscura School of Art. Rovner has received international acclaim and gained wide exposure at the 2003 Venice Biennale. In 2005 the French national gallery, Jeu de Paumes, in Paris hosted a solo exhibition of her works; in 2009, her works were displayed in Paris as part of the "White Night" event.
Rovner's pictures and installations place her creations "on the border" - both real and symbolic - between reality and imagination, between a still picture and a moving one, between a photograph and calligraphy and painting. She recently announced she would be designing the new album cover for the Israeli rock group, Knesiat Hasechel (The Church of Reason ).
Etgar Keret is one of the prominent fiction writers of his generation. His books have become best-sellers both in Israel and abroad and he has won several international awards. His short stories appear in Le Monde, The New York Times, The Guardian and the Paris Review, among other publications. Keret has also worked in cinema. At the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, he and Shira Geffen won both the Golden Camera award and the SACD screenwriting award for their film "Jellyfish." Keret's books have been published abroad in 29 languages and in 34 countries.
Keret has found great success in France, where his books have been published by Actes Sud. Actes Sud is due to publish his latest book, "Pit'om Dfika Badelet" ("Suddenly a Knock on the Door" ) as well.