A weekend full of art in Tel Aviv

Did you know Arabic has 14 different ways to describe love? Artist Anisa Ashkar invites the public to tell her their love stories and get a flower  in exchange, as part of her planned Thursday performance 14 steps to love (See box) meant to take place at the entrance of Tel Aviv City Hall as part of the , which will happen between November 7-9.

Ashkar, who called the work I paint your return with my eyelashes in the colors of golden sun strings, is an established artist who often employs calligraphy and face-painting in her work. In addition to the experience of telling personal stories of love, the art created by her will be on view for the upcoming year. This intimate experience of speaking with one of the better-known artists working in the current Israeli art scene is what the three-day art festival is all about, explained Tel Aviv Arts Department director Tslilit Ben-Nevat to The Jerusalem Post.

“The first such festival took place in 2002, and as in other festivals around the world, the focus is to open the galleries to the general public,” she said. “From 2007, we added the element of making art, meaning that independent artists open their studios.”

When thinking about the , she got the impression that a lot of work is going on, but it’s mostly underground.
“I wanted to expose that,” she said. “The artists didn’t do anything special during it, they just opened their work spaces and talked with people who came. They ended up enjoying it a lot because it allowed them to meet and talk with art lovers on an individual level.”

This year, the theme selected was “Altering Usage,” the term is a technical one from the city bureaucracy when one structure, for example a small factory, is being modified to be used as a hotel. The choice is meant to reflect on the massive changes Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew City, is going through.

In the last year and a half, she told the Post, the city opened three urban art spaces. The procedure is that when developers purchase a building with the intent to modify its usage, they can opt to use it for artistic purposes during the time the definition is changed. If the agreement is approved, they are exempt from paying property tax and the spaces are used by creative people who cover the electric and water bills during the time of their work there, making this a win-win-win situation.

“It is hard to survive financially as an artist,” she told the Post, “such programs give us a chance to support independent artists which are important to this city.”

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Currently, Tel Aviv has 10 residency programs, three are fully supported by the city, five gain some support and two – Artport and Yafo Creative – are independent.

With a variety of events from the north of the city to the south, the festival includes more than visual art. It also includes Writing Block, a space used by writers, and Music Spot, which serves musicians.

Music will take a special role in the festival thanks to the Castle in Time Orchestra. The group will perfume live music during Thursday and Saturday evenings on Sderot Yerushalayim in Jaffa as part of “Time Bound.”

During these hours, all light-rail related construction work on the avenue will halt and artists will present video-art, performances and paintings in the momentarily re-claimed space.

Visitors who are curious about the craft of writing are invited to attend a story-telling night on 60 Shalma Road to be held on Saturday from 8 p.m. on. In addition, special guided tours for photographers will be on offer before the old industrial space is demolished.

Children are warmly welcomed during the festival. The Key Theater will hold intimate puppet shows to children aged five and up as well as their parents. This is just one of several activities on offer for children, all of which are free of charge.

For adults ready for unusual art-performances, Nurit Dreamer and Tahar Kliener offer A Show based on two personas of eastern European artists they created for this special Thursday night event. The show includes nudity and will be held at Theater Gallery Hahanot on 31 Ha’aliyah Street.

“It is important to us,” Ben-Nevat told the Post, “to interest all ages, all interests and above all else to arose curiosity. The comment I am always overjoyed to hear is: ‘Why didn’t you bring more things?’”

The ‘Loving Art, Making Art’ Festival will take place from November 7-9 in Tel Aviv in a variety of locations. Please view the Tel Aviv Municipality website: tel-aviv.gov.il.

To register to Final Shut please send an email to aviv8889, tours depart on Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m., mid-day and 2 p.m.

To register to The Key Theater shows please email info-theatre. Shows will take place on Friday at 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Saturday on 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Each show is roughly 30 minutes long.  

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