Arab-Israeli Cultural Correspondence

The first exhibit of Arab-Israeli art to appear in Israel has just opened at the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. Entitled “Correspondence,” it features the art of 13 Arab-Israeli artists who explore the cultural tensions inherent experienced by Palestinian citizens of Israel.

According to the Mayer’s description of the exhibit:

“Correspondence” attempts to reveal the dialogue between its own culture and the culture of the other, whether in politics, social affairs, fear and doubt or curiosity and the desire for knowledge. Some of these elements can provoke controversy while others may give rise to civilized, humane dialogue and correspondence. The exhibition expropriates some of the artists’ cultural assets, since he or she is here observed as being preoccupied with, angry at and influenced by the culture of an other in an age of Modernism, globalization and Zionism.

In a recent Forward article, the museum’s artistic director explained it in less academic terms:

“I thought the Israeli public should be aware of the problems and the subjects and try to understand what is bothering them and what they are dealing with,” said the artistic director of the Mayer Museum, Rachel Hasson. “Israeli Arabs are part of us, they are living among us, and not to exhibit their work is a way to ignore it. Some can write songs and poems, and a painter can put on a painting what he feels, and we should all know and acknowledge it.”

“Correspondence” certainly appears to be a powerful and provocative exhibit – kudos to the Mayer for taking it on. It runs through January 2009 – anyone who visits is encouraged to weigh in with reviews and reactions…

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