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Tel-Hai Art events 1994
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Tel Hai 94

Tali Kayam

 

The final edition of the Tel Hai events took place between the 20th to the 24th of September, 1994, and was curated by the art critic and historian Gideon Efrat under the title “Locations”’ and the political subheading ‘the Galilee and Judea.’ Efrat’s stated agenda was to establish a different character to the event and shake off everything that had characterized it previously: “That, unlike in the past, when the Tel Hai events were run in the conceptual framework of ‘sculpture in nature’ and set up monumental sculpture (of mostly stone), on the mountain, we see in “Tel Hai 94” a kind of temporary art camp, following which the installations (‘places’) will be dismantled and returned to their creators. We convert the sculpture in nature into a kind of internalized and ‘unnatural’ sculpture.”[1] The works were set up in tents which demarcated places and works associated with them. So all the northern artists were collected into one tent and no international artists participated at all, per Efrat’s principles: “The Tel Hai events of the past threw us a few international “bones”, starting with the first fine bone of Dennis Oppenheim or Johann Gertz, but after that the bones were less and less juicy.”[2]

Furthermore, in appealing to the artists, a budget of 1,500 NIS was offered per work and it was reported that the setup process would be limited and would require staying in the event’s peremesis , for only three days. Which is to say — the connection between the pieces and their creators with the place of the event would no longer be the main point, and perhaps such a connection would not even exist. The uniqueness of Tel Hai as a platform was ultimately lost, as were the tools available to it in order to fight for a central place in the Israeli art field.

Moreover, it seems that Efrat’s desire was to connect with the lowest common denominator which would sweep the masses. “How the hell does one make an event with an avant garde image popular?” Efrat revealed the line of thinking which guided the event’s planning.[3] In answer to this question, Efrat and the organizers, which this time also included a public relations person and external producer, provided an art program that included shows for entertainment, stalls selling products made by the neighboring kibbutzim, and even an amusement park.

These conditions created a condensed event, which art critics felt was devoid of optimal direction, concept or organization, summarized by the headline, “Tel Hai 94: Could have passed.”[4] The event which had more participants than any of the previous Tel Hai meetings of Contemporary Art, with some 73 artists, was recalled as “a hodgepodge of nothingness.”[5]

From this survey of the respective Tel Hai events, we may conclude that an art platform in the geographical periphery which seeks to constitute a feasible “center” in the eyes of the art field requires: a centrally positioned curator with international connections and familiarity with trends in the contemporary art field; recruiting local and international artists with an affinity for the platform’s concept, and a platform with a unique perspective.

 

The following article was taken from a chapter of the thesis ‘A Center Everywhere: Art platforms in Israel’s geographic margins in the 1980s as a tool for creating cultural and symbolic wealth’ (title translated from Hebrew), towards a master’s degree as part of the program “Policy and Theory of the Arts” at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, supervised by Professor Yael Guilat and Dr. Tal Ben Zvi.

 

 

[1]Ofrat, Gideon, “Tel Hai 1994: Places”, 28.1.94, Addressing Tel Hai 94 participants. Haim Meor Archive. [In Hebrew]

[2]Ofrat, Gideon, “Art pitched its tent,” Al Hatzafon, 20.7.94, 25. [In Hebrew]

[3] Ibid.

[4] Guilat, Orli, “Tel Hai 94: Could have skipped it,” Davar, 29.9.94, Haim Meor Archive. [In Hebrew]

[5]Lousky, Haim, “The tents and the dust,” Yedioth Aharonot, 30.9.1994, Haim Meor Archive. [In Hebrew]

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 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

Tel-Hai Art events 1994
Public Art and Early Media Archive

Tel Hai 94

Tali Kayam

 

The final edition of the Tel Hai events took place between the 20th to the 24th of September, 1994, and was curated by the art critic and historian Gideon Efrat under the title “Locations”’ and the political subheading ‘the Galilee and Judea.’ Efrat’s stated agenda was to establish a different character to the event and shake off everything that had characterized it previously: “That, unlike in the past, when the Tel Hai events were run in the conceptual framework of ‘sculpture in nature’ and set up monumental sculpture (of mostly stone), on the mountain, we see in “Tel Hai 94” a kind of temporary art camp, following which the installations (‘places’) will be dismantled and returned to their creators. We convert the sculpture in nature into a kind of internalized and ‘unnatural’ sculpture.”[1] The works were set up in tents which demarcated places and works associated with them. So all the northern artists were collected into one tent and no international artists participated at all, per Efrat’s principles: “The Tel Hai events of the past threw us a few international “bones”, starting with the first fine bone of Dennis Oppenheim or Johann Gertz, but after that the bones were less and less juicy.”[2]

Furthermore, in appealing to the artists, a budget of 1,500 NIS was offered per work and it was reported that the setup process would be limited and would require staying in the event’s peremesis , for only three days. Which is to say — the connection between the pieces and their creators with the place of the event would no longer be the main point, and perhaps such a connection would not even exist. The uniqueness of Tel Hai as a platform was ultimately lost, as were the tools available to it in order to fight for a central place in the Israeli art field.

Moreover, it seems that Efrat’s desire was to connect with the lowest common denominator which would sweep the masses. “How the hell does one make an event with an avant garde image popular?” Efrat revealed the line of thinking which guided the event’s planning.[3] In answer to this question, Efrat and the organizers, which this time also included a public relations person and external producer, provided an art program that included shows for entertainment, stalls selling products made by the neighboring kibbutzim, and even an amusement park.

These conditions created a condensed event, which art critics felt was devoid of optimal direction, concept or organization, summarized by the headline, “Tel Hai 94: Could have passed.”[4] The event which had more participants than any of the previous Tel Hai meetings of Contemporary Art, with some 73 artists, was recalled as “a hodgepodge of nothingness.”[5]

From this survey of the respective Tel Hai events, we may conclude that an art platform in the geographical periphery which seeks to constitute a feasible “center” in the eyes of the art field requires: a centrally positioned curator with international connections and familiarity with trends in the contemporary art field; recruiting local and international artists with an affinity for the platform’s concept, and a platform with a unique perspective.

 

The following article was taken from a chapter of the thesis ‘A Center Everywhere: Art platforms in Israel’s geographic margins in the 1980s as a tool for creating cultural and symbolic wealth’ (title translated from Hebrew), towards a master’s degree as part of the program “Policy and Theory of the Arts” at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, supervised by Professor Yael Guilat and Dr. Tal Ben Zvi.

 

 

[1]Ofrat, Gideon, “Tel Hai 1994: Places”, 28.1.94, Addressing Tel Hai 94 participants. Haim Meor Archive. [In Hebrew]

[2]Ofrat, Gideon, “Art pitched its tent,” Al Hatzafon, 20.7.94, 25. [In Hebrew]

[3] Ibid.

[4] Guilat, Orli, “Tel Hai 94: Could have skipped it,” Davar, 29.9.94, Haim Meor Archive. [In Hebrew]

[5]Lousky, Haim, “The tents and the dust,” Yedioth Aharonot, 30.9.1994, Haim Meor Archive. [In Hebrew]

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis
 

 The CDA's archives are operating with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund and Artis