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Where To? Part A
Opening Date
02/04/2011
Closing Date
11/06/2011
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"We view Zionism as a constant and systematic effort to transform the Jewish people’s destiny, a ransformation in three aspects that are one: from dispersion to concentration, from diaspora to homeland, and from dependence to independence". 
David Ben-Gurion, "The Time Factor in Zionism", 1944

These words by Israel’s first Prime Minister articulate the goals of Zionism as we know them today and as gradually formulated during the 20th century. A reevaluation of the history of Zionism reveals, however, that during the early formation period of Jewish nationalism and particularly the Zionist movement, it was home to several ideological currents which did not espouse these goals and even promoted contradictory ones.

Where to? is a project for promoting new artwork, the product of collaborations between artists and academics and researchers from other fields, in the form of action proposals and new lines of thought concerning Jewish existence at the present time. This move will be realized by reassessing ideological currents and practical options developed within and ultimately rejected by the modern Jewish revolution, particularly in the Zionist movement.

The project’s starting point is a certain parallel between the existential questions arising today and those emerging in the second half of the 19th century. We identify a sense of foreboding in both periods. In the past, it was the failure of Jewish emancipation, the pogroms and social exclusion which led to a widespread fermentation of creative ideas and experimental solutions to the so-called Jewish Question. A similar sense of foreboding is felt today in view of the impasse encountered by Zionism and Israeli nationalism in particular, the rising tide of nationalism and racism in Israeli society, and Israel’s pariah status in the world community.

We suggest renewing the discussion about ideological currents that used to be part of the Zionist movement but where consigned to oblivion in the light of the statist solution. Among others, these include non-national Zionism, pro-diaspora Zionism, sovereignty-less Zionism, and minority Zionism. This reconstruction work is designed to encourage artists and researchers to take part in formulating fresh visions and alternatives for present-day Jewish existence.

The 19th century saw far-reaching transformations in the European Jewish communities, with fierce competition among nationalist, religious, socialist and other ideologies. The narrative that eventually one the day was that of the Eastern-European Zionist faction, which advocated concentrating the Jews in a single territory where they will constitute a sovereign majority in order to save them from their historical destiny as a minority in a hostile environment. Returning to the national homeland and was conceived as a way of returning to history, becoming a modern nation master of its own fate. This ideology was modeled upon West European nationalism with its Christian and even anti-Semitic roots, and accordingly adopted its ethnocentric elements which had served to define the Jews as aliens. As a European national movement, Zionism thus came to embrace the Christian theological stance on the Jewish Question and the idea of their return to Palestine as a portent of redemption. The result was paradoxical: Jews now had to abandon Europe and Western Civilization in general to be able to be readmitted to it in the first place.

The struggle for Jewish emancipation in Europe, the great pogroms and the Holocaust resulted in the triumph of the nationalist Zionist conclusion that a military powerful sovereign state in which all Jews will be concentrated – in other words, the liquidation of the diaspora – is the only solution ensuring the Jewish nation’s survival.

This context sheds a different light on Israel’s current fear of the Iranian bomb. Considering this threat in military and political terms is not enough to fully understand the intense opposition to the Iranian nuclear program and the declared willingness to take huge risks in order to thwart it. Apparently, Iranian nuclear capability is such a threat to Israel because it undercuts Zionism’s key argument about securing a safe haven for the world Jewry. Under a nuclear threat, Israel will no longer be able to maintain that pretense, denying nationalist Zionism of its leading position and requiring a reexamination of the historically triumphant narrative.

This insight begs renewed discussion of the future of the Jewish people: is diasporic Jewish existence – formerly denied and presented and dangerously weak – now becoming a more realistic survival option? Is the concentration of Jews in one territory necessarily a safer option in a region armed with weapons of mass destruction? Are there other alternatives? Then again, will other options for Jewish existence in the Land of Israel prove superior not only given the external threats but also given the internal threat embodied in Israeli nationalism and racism?

Where to? is a call for formulating novel proposals and courses of action through a study of various historical options for dealing with the Jewish Questions – options that although consigned to obscurity may now be relevant more than ever.  Their relevance will be reassessed by reviewing texts by competing ideological currents and exploring the cultural fields in which they grew, as well as through contemporary artwork.

Where to? is composed of three stages, and will be held between April 2011 and June 2012.

The first stage, from April 2 to June 11, 2011 will see the creation of a visual historical archive and various launching activities and events.
The archive, which will be the centerpiece of this stage and the basis for the entire project, will include historical literature, studies, visuals and artworks. The archive materials will be collected first in preparation to the project and later classified and expanded as it progresses. The archive will constitute a dynamic and fluctuating basis for imagining alternatives and creatively reexamining both past and present.

At this stage, the archive will be made available for limited periods to several teams of artists and researchers. Each team will explore a key question defined as its starting point and suggest a certain treatment of the archive that will include an assessment of its materials and their expansion using additional materials, and their classification, marking and ordering according to the research requirements. In doing so, the team will suggest further categories that will cut across the archive items from a different angle and facilitate an alternative reading thereof. Finally, this examination and reviewing process will be represented using selected materials that will gradually cover the walls of the exhibition space. This archive mining process will be transparent to visitors in the center throughout this stage.

The first stage will also include events, on May 13-14 and June 10-11, in which the various teams will present their archival work in discussions, lectures, installations or any other way. For further details of these events, please visit the Israeli  Center for Digital Art website. 

The artists and researchers active in that stage include: Yochai Avrahami & Doron Tavori; Ronen Eidelman & Guy Briller; Public Movement; Avi Pitchon, Michael Kessus Gedalyovich and Motti Mizrahi.

The archive includes work by the following artists: Yael Bartana, Yossi & Itamar, Nurit Sharett, Ronen Eidelman, Guy Briller, Sala Manca, Roee Rosen, Yehoshua Simon, Effi & Amir, Elad Larom, Yochai Avrahami, Doron Tavori, Public Movement, Ariella Azoulay, and Michael Kessus Gedalyovich, and more. During the first stage and the more the archive expands, additional artists may contribute their work.

During the project’s core stage, these artists and others will be called upon to develop new projects. These projects could be based on accumulated archive materials. The new artwork will be presented in the final stage that will be held from March 2012 in the form of an exhibition.

Artists and researchers are invited to propose additional projects following their independent exploration of the project archive. The deadline for submitting these proposals is June 11, 2011. For more details, please write to us:
info@digitalartlab.org.il

The project’s name is borrowed from the title of a book by Mordecai Zeev Feuerberg, one of the most important in the Modern Hebrew Literature genre that emerged in Eastern Europe in the latter half of the 19th century. The protagonists of this secular literature experience the traumatic clash between the heder and yeshiva, the Talmud and Jewish prayer book on the one hand, and the supposedly enlightened modern Europe on the other. Like other authors of this genre, Feuerberg wrote Where to? at a point where the God of Jews collapsed into the modern European metropolis. These processes, which we now read through the prism of Jewish-Israeli nationalism, have never been heroic, and tended to end in loss and misery. Such was also the fate of Crazy Nachman, the book’s protagonist. Thus, the choice of this title is connotative, beyond its literary source of inspiration, of an ambivalence regarding the Zionist endeavor and is simultaneously a question and a call for the future.

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

Where To? Part A

"We view Zionism as a constant and systematic effort to transform the Jewish people’s destiny, a ransformation in three aspects that are one: from dispersion to concentration, from diaspora to homeland, and from dependence to independence". 
David Ben-Gurion, "The Time Factor in Zionism", 1944

These words by Israel’s first Prime Minister articulate the goals of Zionism as we know them today and as gradually formulated during the 20th century. A reevaluation of the history of Zionism reveals, however, that during the early formation period of Jewish nationalism and particularly the Zionist movement, it was home to several ideological currents which did not espouse these goals and even promoted contradictory ones.

Where to? is a project for promoting new artwork, the product of collaborations between artists and academics and researchers from other fields, in the form of action proposals and new lines of thought concerning Jewish existence at the present time. This move will be realized by reassessing ideological currents and practical options developed within and ultimately rejected by the modern Jewish revolution, particularly in the Zionist movement.

The project’s starting point is a certain parallel between the existential questions arising today and those emerging in the second half of the 19th century. We identify a sense of foreboding in both periods. In the past, it was the failure of Jewish emancipation, the pogroms and social exclusion which led to a widespread fermentation of creative ideas and experimental solutions to the so-called Jewish Question. A similar sense of foreboding is felt today in view of the impasse encountered by Zionism and Israeli nationalism in particular, the rising tide of nationalism and racism in Israeli society, and Israel’s pariah status in the world community.

We suggest renewing the discussion about ideological currents that used to be part of the Zionist movement but where consigned to oblivion in the light of the statist solution. Among others, these include non-national Zionism, pro-diaspora Zionism, sovereignty-less Zionism, and minority Zionism. This reconstruction work is designed to encourage artists and researchers to take part in formulating fresh visions and alternatives for present-day Jewish existence.

The 19th century saw far-reaching transformations in the European Jewish communities, with fierce competition among nationalist, religious, socialist and other ideologies. The narrative that eventually one the day was that of the Eastern-European Zionist faction, which advocated concentrating the Jews in a single territory where they will constitute a sovereign majority in order to save them from their historical destiny as a minority in a hostile environment. Returning to the national homeland and was conceived as a way of returning to history, becoming a modern nation master of its own fate. This ideology was modeled upon West European nationalism with its Christian and even anti-Semitic roots, and accordingly adopted its ethnocentric elements which had served to define the Jews as aliens. As a European national movement, Zionism thus came to embrace the Christian theological stance on the Jewish Question and the idea of their return to Palestine as a portent of redemption. The result was paradoxical: Jews now had to abandon Europe and Western Civilization in general to be able to be readmitted to it in the first place.

The struggle for Jewish emancipation in Europe, the great pogroms and the Holocaust resulted in the triumph of the nationalist Zionist conclusion that a military powerful sovereign state in which all Jews will be concentrated – in other words, the liquidation of the diaspora – is the only solution ensuring the Jewish nation’s survival.

This context sheds a different light on Israel’s current fear of the Iranian bomb. Considering this threat in military and political terms is not enough to fully understand the intense opposition to the Iranian nuclear program and the declared willingness to take huge risks in order to thwart it. Apparently, Iranian nuclear capability is such a threat to Israel because it undercuts Zionism’s key argument about securing a safe haven for the world Jewry. Under a nuclear threat, Israel will no longer be able to maintain that pretense, denying nationalist Zionism of its leading position and requiring a reexamination of the historically triumphant narrative.

This insight begs renewed discussion of the future of the Jewish people: is diasporic Jewish existence – formerly denied and presented and dangerously weak – now becoming a more realistic survival option? Is the concentration of Jews in one territory necessarily a safer option in a region armed with weapons of mass destruction? Are there other alternatives? Then again, will other options for Jewish existence in the Land of Israel prove superior not only given the external threats but also given the internal threat embodied in Israeli nationalism and racism?

Where to? is a call for formulating novel proposals and courses of action through a study of various historical options for dealing with the Jewish Questions – options that although consigned to obscurity may now be relevant more than ever.  Their relevance will be reassessed by reviewing texts by competing ideological currents and exploring the cultural fields in which they grew, as well as through contemporary artwork.

Where to? is composed of three stages, and will be held between April 2011 and June 2012.

The first stage, from April 2 to June 11, 2011 will see the creation of a visual historical archive and various launching activities and events.
The archive, which will be the centerpiece of this stage and the basis for the entire project, will include historical literature, studies, visuals and artworks. The archive materials will be collected first in preparation to the project and later classified and expanded as it progresses. The archive will constitute a dynamic and fluctuating basis for imagining alternatives and creatively reexamining both past and present.

At this stage, the archive will be made available for limited periods to several teams of artists and researchers. Each team will explore a key question defined as its starting point and suggest a certain treatment of the archive that will include an assessment of its materials and their expansion using additional materials, and their classification, marking and ordering according to the research requirements. In doing so, the team will suggest further categories that will cut across the archive items from a different angle and facilitate an alternative reading thereof. Finally, this examination and reviewing process will be represented using selected materials that will gradually cover the walls of the exhibition space. This archive mining process will be transparent to visitors in the center throughout this stage.

The first stage will also include events, on May 13-14 and June 10-11, in which the various teams will present their archival work in discussions, lectures, installations or any other way. For further details of these events, please visit the Israeli  Center for Digital Art website. 

The artists and researchers active in that stage include: Yochai Avrahami & Doron Tavori; Ronen Eidelman & Guy Briller; Public Movement; Avi Pitchon, Michael Kessus Gedalyovich and Motti Mizrahi.

The archive includes work by the following artists: Yael Bartana, Yossi & Itamar, Nurit Sharett, Ronen Eidelman, Guy Briller, Sala Manca, Roee Rosen, Yehoshua Simon, Effi & Amir, Elad Larom, Yochai Avrahami, Doron Tavori, Public Movement, Ariella Azoulay, and Michael Kessus Gedalyovich, and more. During the first stage and the more the archive expands, additional artists may contribute their work.

During the project’s core stage, these artists and others will be called upon to develop new projects. These projects could be based on accumulated archive materials. The new artwork will be presented in the final stage that will be held from March 2012 in the form of an exhibition.

Artists and researchers are invited to propose additional projects following their independent exploration of the project archive. The deadline for submitting these proposals is June 11, 2011. For more details, please write to us:
info@digitalartlab.org.il

The project’s name is borrowed from the title of a book by Mordecai Zeev Feuerberg, one of the most important in the Modern Hebrew Literature genre that emerged in Eastern Europe in the latter half of the 19th century. The protagonists of this secular literature experience the traumatic clash between the heder and yeshiva, the Talmud and Jewish prayer book on the one hand, and the supposedly enlightened modern Europe on the other. Like other authors of this genre, Feuerberg wrote Where to? at a point where the God of Jews collapsed into the modern European metropolis. These processes, which we now read through the prism of Jewish-Israeli nationalism, have never been heroic, and tended to end in loss and misery. Such was also the fate of Crazy Nachman, the book’s protagonist. Thus, the choice of this title is connotative, beyond its literary source of inspiration, of an ambivalence regarding the Zionist endeavor and is simultaneously a question and a call for the future.

 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
 

Where To?
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Mobile Archive @ Yekaterinburg, Russia
The Mobile Archive in Milano
Gabi Scardi
Galit Eilat
The Mobile Archive @ St. Petersburg