Art Collectives in Israel
In the last two decades, there has been a shift in the way Israeli citizens and artists respond to political and social matters. Although Israeli citizenry has always been politically aware, with an emphasis on security and peace matters, popular Israeli engagement with politics has been rather conformist and restrained. It is partially due to the organising of demonstrations, one of the main forms of political activity in Israel beyond voting, by political parties. In parallel, Israeli artists have often chosen to approach these matters through studio-based artwork. Additionally, the artistic discourse focuses on a formal approach to interpreting art or a critical approach regarding power relations within the art world. This has led to a situation in which art and politics have been understood as separate realms.
My premise is that the 2011 Israeli protests marked a turning point for art and politics. In both spheres, we witnessed new responses to social matters, such as the high cost of living, inequality, and socio-economic divisions. On an artistic level, there has been an increase of art collectives, such as Empty House and Muslala in Jerusalem, and Onya and ARTEAM in Tel-Aviv. They suggest aesthetic solutions for problems identified in the 2011 protests. Some of their activities include organising gardening workshops, offering temporary solutions to social problems, such as a free public kitchen and libraries, and organising alternative tours in neighbourhoods.
My research aims to examine these art collectives in relation to social and political changes in Israel, as well in relation to similar worldwide socially engaged art. It aims to contribute to the understanding of the socio-political potential of art. From a local perspective, my research aims to contribute to the development of a theoretical framework through which to read Israeli art from social and political perspectives, with emphasis on historical and current moments in which art, politics, and social change intersect.
Research Degree: PhD by Publication, Full-time
Research Centre: Art Research Group
Funded: Vice-Chancellor International Scholarship Programme