Apocalypse Now, Only for Three Days

The third Omanut Haaretz festival will open this Sunday in the Reading power station compound in Tel Aviv.

Dana Gilerman
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Dana Gilerman

The third Omanut Haaretz festival will open this Sunday in the Reading power station compound in Tel Aviv. The organizers say that some 100,000 persons visited the previous festival, and there is no doubt that it has become one of the major art events in Israel. Admission is free.

The aim of the event is to bring art out of the museums and galleries for a direct encounter between contemporary Israeli art and the public at large.

Approximately 50 Israeli artists will take part in the exhibition, veteran artists but primarily young artists, including Danny Reisner, Anisa Ashkar, Maayan Strauss, Rakefet Omer Weiner, Orna Brumberg, Arkadi Greenman, Sima Meir, Adva Drori, David Adika, Carmit Gil, Shirley Shor, Sharif Waked, Yoav Shmueli, Sharon Glassberg, Elisheva Levi, Shai Eid Aloni, Drora Domini, Hila Ben Ari, Manar Zuabi, Michal Schreiber, Nelly Agassi and Shai Ignatz.

This is the second time that Direktor is curating the event. She sums up the first exhibition, shown last year, as a big surprise. "The exhibition was greatly loved by the art world, and also by that abstract thing known as the wider public," she says. "It did not spark any hostile response, such as we are used to seeing in relation to contemporary art. That made it clear to me that once again that there is something in how the museums and galleries are run that creates this distance. It begins with the location of the spaces. They are not accessible. They are not in the street. The people who come to them is a crowd that knows, not an accidental crowd. Even the art students that I teach ask me if you have to pay when you enter a gallery. Even they don't know the rules of the place."

"Last Dance" is the name Direktor chose for an exhibition at the festival, even though the more exact name, as far as she is concerned, is "It Was an Honor Playing With You" - "a sentence that the orchestra leader in the film `Titanic' says to his colleagues when it was already clear that this was the end," she says. "The space in which the exhibition is staged looks like a big, luxurious ship that is sailing to oblivion, stuck on the beach." Alternatively, she says, it is like Versailles - "a large, luxurious hall, without any purpose, dead. "

"Out of all this was born the thought to create some sort of ball there, a last ball, a last tango, a last waltz, everything with terminal and apocalyptic meanings, which also links to my general sensation, of dancing and drowning and making art. All of this incredible, effervescent goings-on that characterizes the end. That is the sense that I wanted to get across.

"Here we are, dancing, and who knows what will be tomorrow. We'll no longer be here tomorrow. We're only here for three days."

Last year there were a lot of complaints about the short duration of the exhibition.

"I was also frustrated by this. There was such a gargantuan investment, and for budgetary reasons it all dissolved after three days. It's as if [it is] opposed to the character of art. A sort of circus that comes to town, performs and vanishes. Somehow I have internalized this, as well, and I told myself that if that is the character of the event, then let's create an event that is short-term from the outset."