Since 2013, the Jerusalem Biennale has brought artists from all over the world to Israel for an art festival that celebrates contemporary Jewish and Israeli artists. The Biennale takes place across the city of Jerusalem and centers contemporary artists whose work references Jewish and Israeli experiences.
The 2023 Biennale originally was supposed to open early this month. However, due to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, the 2023 festival has been tentatively postponed until next spring.
Many of the artists mounted their shows in their home cities around the world instead, with three of the Biennale’s exhibits now on display in New York City, which more than a dozen artists who are featured in the Biennale call home.
The Heller Museum at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, in partnership with the Jewish Arts Salon and the American Sephardi Federation, is hosting two of the Biennale exhibitions, “Activate” and “The Seventeen.” They will be on view for free at the museum’s Greenwich Village location through December 5.
A third exhibit, “Hallelujah,” is on display through December 17 at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan on the Upper West Side’s Laurie M. Tisch gallery.
“The Jerusalem Biennale became like a pulse, beating steadily every two years,” Rami Ozeri, the festival’s founder and creator director, said in a press release. “Since 2013, without exception and despite the many challenges, the Jerusalem Biennale has created a platform for contemporary art at the very center of the Jewish world. Until now. It’s as if the heart skips a beat.
“But even now, after the unspeakable pain of October 7, we have witnessed a huge outpouring of solidarity from around the world,” he continued. “Within weeks, our friends and partners have succeeded in mounting in their own cities the exhibitions created for the Jerusalem Biennale. We will continue to nurture the ties of art and culture between Jerusalem and the world today more than ever.”
At the Heller Museum, “Activate: A New York Women’s Perspective,” curated by Israeli artist Hadas Glazer, showcases the work of six New York area artists — Siona Benjamin, Goldie Gross, Ronit Levin Delgado, Joan Roth, Chelsea Steinberg Gay, and Yona Verwer — who explore “the complexities of life as a woman today.” according to a press release.
“From my personal perspective, it’s challenging to celebrate art today, because art has been recruited to the collective fight; and yet it demonstrates how essential it is to our culture, lives, and also personal souls,” Glazer said in a statement. “I am grateful that this exhibition is opening on its original date, November 9, as all the works were conceived long before we could fathom the horrors we face today. It serves as a powerful testament to art’s capacity to motivate and activate us, urging us to take action and effect real change in the world — a positive message we all desperately need.”
Also at the museum, “The Seventeen” spans the 40-year career of Brooklyn-born artist Archie Rand. Curated by Samantha Baskind, the exhibition continues the artist’s explorations of “the Bible and Jewish texts in serialized paintings conceptually informed by twentieth-century culture,” according to the Jewish Art Salon’s website.
Meanwhile, at the JCC, “Hallelujah” will showcase Israeli artists now living in New York who have created art about their experiences as immigrants to the United States. On view will be works by Noa Charuvi, Hirut Yosef , Yehudit Feinstein, Yuli Aloni Primor, Gal Cohen, Ken Goshen, Gabriela Vainsencher, and Maya Baran.
Other exhibitions that were intended for the Biennale have been mounted at the AMIA Art Space in Buenos Aires and the Jewish Museum of Casale Monferrato in Italy.
Ozeri said in a press release that more of the exhibits will open around the world in the coming months as a plan is made for the Biennale to take place in Jerusalem next year. “This heart will always keep beating,” he said.
New York Jewish Week-Jewish Telegraphic Agency