Israeli Minister's Face Blacked Out in Nude Portrait for Art-school Show

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Yam Amran, 'Sdinim' in its original state. Against a color-splashed background is a kneeling, nude woman.
Yam Amran, 'Sdinim' in its original state.Credit: Arnon Ben Dror

The president of a prominent Israeli art college said on Saturday that the decision to censor a nude painting of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in a student exhibition was motivated not by political considerations but rather by the judgment that the work was hurtful toward women.

On Thursay, Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art President Yuli Tamir requested the censorship of “Sdinim” (Hebrew for sheets), by Yam Amrani. Tamir was herself the minister of science, culture and sport in 2006-2007 and served as education minister from 2006 to 2009. The head of the college’s art school, Larry Abramson, asked Amrani to either remove the work from the exhibition or to cover Shaked’s face so that the cabinet minister would be unidentifiable.

In a conversation with Haaretz, Amrani said he covered the portrait’s face to comply with Tamir’s request. He added that several people had urged him to remove the black oval and X now covering Shaked’s face.

“It’s a painful, fascist measure, any art lover would say the same. Larry [Abramson] said it’s something that should not be done at an art school, but that he has a boss,” Amrami said. Abramson declined to comment to Haaretz.

Speaking to Haaretz on Saturday, Tamir said that college administrators inferred from remarks made by Amrani that Shaked was the subject of “Sdinim,” even though the justice minister is not mentioned by name in the explanatory notes for the work.

Yam Amran, 'Sdinim' after the face was blacked out.Credit: Arnon Ben Dror

“One may criticize,” Tamir said. “Personally, I think it’s a work of hurtful chauvinism and has nothing to do with politics. Had it been [Meretz chairwoman] Zehava Galon or [Joint List Knesset member] Haneen Zoabi, I would have made the same request.”

In the written material accompanying his final project, Amrani wrote: “Through ‘Sdinim,’ I am creating hybrids that cause a clash and dissonance among images ... neutralizing their functionality and inducing discomfort that conveys nihilism and an absence of a coherent position.”

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