Renowned novelists Vikas Swarup (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and Tracy Chevalier (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) will visit Israel as part of the third International Writers Festival.
Other prominent authors expected to arrive for the festival are Howard Jacobson (winner of the Booker prize for “The Finkler Question”) and Aleksandar Hemon (“The Lazarus Project”).
The festival, which will be held from May 13 to 18 in Jerusalem’s Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood, will be attended by writers from Israel and abroad who will take part in literary meetings, workshops and discussions on the many aspects of literary writing, the process of creating a story, translation and bridging cultural gaps.
Other guests include Gary Shteyngart from the United States (“Super Sad True Love Story,” “Absurdistan,” ” The Russian Debutante’s Handbook”), Gerard Donovan of Ireland (“Julius Winsome”), Lorenza Mazzetti of Italy (“The Sky Falls”), Claudia Piñeiro of Argentina (“Thursday Night Widows”), and Boualem Sansal of Algeria (“Le Village de l’allemand”).
The Israeli novelists who have already confirmed their participation include David Grossman, A. B. Yehoshua, Aharon Appelfeld, Eli Amir, Eshkol Nevo, Etgar Keret, Zeruya Shalev, Yochi Brandes, Dorit Rabinyan, Alon Hilu, Nir Baram, Haggai Linik and others.
The festival will also include music and theater events, as well as the screening of a unique series of film adaptations of books written by some of the participating authors.
“A place of radical otherness” is what French photographer Frederic Brenner calls Israel. For the past two and a half months, with his help, we have tried to convey in the pages of Haaretz some of that otherness – and a smidgeon of the radicalism. The unprecedentedly extensive collaboration between the global team of photographers that Brenner recruited and our weekend supplement was intended to provide not only the very first peek at a photography project that is generating interest across continents: The objective was also to enable us to use the sharp gaze of photographers from Korea to the United States to be able to retell, but in a different way, the Israeli story. And indeed, the same story that we bring each week on these pages looks different when those who deliver it are actually artists from outside.
This initial peek at the fruits of the artists’ labor over the past three years comes to an end this week with photos taken by Brenner himself. But work on “Shooting Israel” is naturally still far from finished: For Brenner, who is not only one of the participants in it but the moving force behind it, this is at most the beginning of the end. He has accompanied the process like a concerned father watching his child learning to walk.
A dozen photographers visited Israel in the past three years at his initiative. The last of them have yet to submit the very final photographs they took. Meanwhile, talks are proceeding regarding the first exhibition of the collected works, which will probably take place in Europe early in 2014. From there the exhibition will travel around America, Europe and Israel. All of this will be accompanied by a catalog and publication of a series of 12 books, one for each artist, which will wrap up the project.
Might we begin to sum up nonetheless? For the man who came up with the whole ambitious idea of a “group portrait” of Israel, the sheer notion of ending or stopping contradicts the spirit of the whole enterprise. “What I want is for that conversation to continue. That the participating artists will offer viewers open, generous pictures, of the sort that have enough room for the other. That everyone can begin his or her own journey.”
In other words, Brenner explains that he envisions the project as a means “to explore Israel as place and metaphor, to hold a mirror up to Israel, for holding a mirror to Israel is holding a mirror to the world.”
And you believe that art can do that?
Who is Lilach Chen?
I’m 24 years old from Holon. Right now I’m studying video editing and post-production at the open university.
How did you get into “Fingers Breakdance” ?
Long time ago… (when I was 16) I was actually breakdancing. One day I tried the breakdance moves with my fingers and it looked really funny. So my sister and I decided to make a short video.
About a year or two later we found out about youtube and uploaded this video which became very popular.
What Size shoes are your fingers?
Size of shoes… I don’t know exactly but they were part of a keychain.
You did a commercial for Sony, tell us about that…
2 years ago, I was invited to Prague to film a It was a Sony Ericsson commercialTV ad for the Xperia x10 mini touch-screen cellphone. The idea was finger-dancing on the screen. The Dance was a collaboration between me and their choreographer. It was a really fun project. ( check it out )
Your Youtube channel has almost 24 million hits, that’s amazing! Did you expect that kind of exposure?
I didn’t expect it at all. We got amazing exposure. When I uploaded my first video it was the first year of youtube. So the whole “Youtube stars” phenomenon hasnt’t started yet. I’m still surprised by the popularity of the idea.
By the way now I’m above 24 million hits.
Besides finger breakdancing, is Breakdancing big in Israel ?
Yes! Breakdancing became very popular in Israel along the years. There are always events and big competitions.
You filmed in various cities around the world, any favorites?
I filmed in Mumbai, Istanbul twice, London and Prague. (I get request from many other cities which I film at home). My favorite city was Prague.
And of course, does Size matters ?
Size does matter! It’s not only tiny shoes it’s also tiny background and tiny accessories that I create. For example the bed and the speakers from “fingers breakdance 5″.
Indulge your passion for culture! EPOS, the International Art Film Festival, will take place from February 1 – 4, 2012 at the Tel Aviv Museum. Festival directors Micky Laron and Gidi Avivi have put together an enticing program of documentary and feature films on music, dance, theatre, and film, augmented with live music performances, workshops and lectures.
Festival guests will include: Arantxa Aguirre, director of Le Coeur Et Le Courage, Spain; John Bridcut, director of Elgar – The Man Behind The Mask and Rostropovich: The Genius of the Cello, England; Kevin Hood, screenwriter and participant in the workshop the Dramatic Arena, USA; Lech Majewski, director of The Garden of Earthly Delights, The Mill and the Cross and Wojaczek, Poland; Ágnes Sós, director of Invisible Strings: The Talented Pusker Sisters, Hungary; Jeremiah Cullinane, director of Book Smugglers, Ireland; Iwan Schumacher, director of Urs Fischer, Switzerland; Philipp Stölzl, director ofGoethe!, Germany; Wiktoria Szymanska, director of Themerson & Themerson, England.
Special events at the festival include:
Artist, poet and director Lech Majewski is a central figure in the festival, with an exhibit of his video art in the Tel Aviv Museum as well as screenings of three films. Majewski will give a gallery talk on Friday, February 3rd at 12:00.
Take Five – Brubeck Plays Brubeck. Pianist Darius Brubeck will perform a unique concert honoring his father Dave Brubeck on Friday, February 3, 2012 at 22:00, at the Tel Aviv Museum immediately following the screening of the film Dave Brubeck – In His Own Sweet Way. Performing with Brubeck will be Dave Higgins on saxophone, Tal Ronen on bass and Shay Zalman on drums. Tickets and information: 1 700 5000 39. On Saturday, February 4, Brubeck will perform in Haifa at Beit Aba Hushi at 21:00, call 04-8227850 for tickets.
A Master Class on Developing Feature Films about Artists - Edited and moderated by Ruth Lev Ari, the master class will feature: Kevin Hood, who wrote the screenplay for Becoming Jane (2007), a film about the early life of author Jane Austen; Lech Majewski, director of The Mill and the Cross (2011), based on the painting The Procession to Calvary by Pieter Bruegel the Elder; and Philipp Stölzl, director of Goethe! (2011), that centers on Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s youth. The master class will take place in English, on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 from 12:00 – 18:00 at the Tel Aviv Museum. For additional information and registration, write to: email@example.com.
The full program of films is available on the festival website: www.filmart.co.il/en.
In addition to the Tel Aviv Museum, the festival films will be screened at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Haifa Cinematheque, Haifa Museum of Art and the Dance Center in Emek HaMa’ayanot in Beit Shean. Tickets are 48 NIS/40 NIS discounts for seniors, students and members of guilds, 24 NIS for soldiers; and may be purchased online, or call: 03-6077020
Source: Midnight East
She is young and innocent, traveling the world and discovering its secrets. Her name is Vagina Flower, a comic-book character created by Yaara Rozenblit. Late at night in Tel Aviv pubs, Rozenblit hands out small comic books starring Vagina Flower or puts on street exhibitions. During the day she’s a teacher of Jewish thought at a secondary school.
Rozenblit, 26, grew up in Givatayim, where she studied art at the Thelma Yellin high school. She now lives in Tel Aviv. She studied literature and Jewish philosophy at Tel Aviv University in a BA program for gifted students, and now she’s pursuing a degree in gender studies there.
The inspiration for her comic-book heroine was born in India.
“I had an un-fun year last year,” says Rozenblit, “both because of the school where I was teaching and because of a stupid relationship with a guy.” During the summer she went to India, and in Dharamsala, “I met a goldsmith, an Indian. I started spending time with him and making all kinds of jewelry. After a while I thought I needed to be doing something that’s more me, that expresses me and what I feel. I decided to make a ring. Samantha in ‘Sex and the City’ has ring power. That’s what guided me,” she says, holding out a finger hosting a pretty silver ring shaped like female genitals surrounded by petals.
“Friends I made there would come to the goldsmith’s workshop,” she says. “They looked and started to laugh. He asked: ‘What? What’s this?’ …. So I told him: Vagina Flower.”
On a long train trip she began to imagine the heroine’s story, and at a cafe in Rishikesh she began writing and illustrating it. In Rozenblit’s first comics booklet, Vagina Flower tells how she was born to a single mother called Vagina Power, who was, incidentally, a student of Vagina Woolf. Vagina Flower wants to love and be loved, and her mother warns her about penises who see her only as a sex organ.
So how do the pub-goers react to these comics?
“The reactions range on a broad spectrum, from ‘wow, that’s cool’ to people who express disgust. And it’s an excellent trigger for a conversation about feminism,” Rozenblit says.
The disgust, it turns out, is expressed by women.
“Men say, ‘What’s this? Why are you bringing us this? Why do we need to see this?’ But a few days ago I gave it to two girls who were sitting near me in a pub and they said ‘Yuck, how disgusting.’”
Another time, a guy in a pub who didn’t know the artist was sitting next to him said about her comics: “This is the most far-out thing I’ve seen in my life.” That, says Rozenblit with a smile, “is the biggest compliment. Nothing can top that.”
And how does she explain what motivates her?
“I explain that penises are considered a reason for pride. Boys measure their penis when they’re little, and men really boast about it. Women don’t have that kind of pride. Our culture sends the message that the female sex organ is dirty and disgusting. And this perception has to be changed.”
A panel from Rozenblit’s comic book
Rozenblit’s work joins a tradition of art that reached its peak in the United States in the 1970s. Feminist art of that era included a trend known as “cunt art.” Artists like Suzanne Santoro, Karen Cook, Tee Corinne and Judy Chicago wanted to change the preconceptions about women’s genitals and replace the self-loathing with familiarity, affection and pleasure.
According to Dr. Tal Dekel, an art and gender scholar, “Since then, this trend has had ups and downs connected to the counterreaction that began after the revolution of the 1970s. C— art comes up from time to time as a relevant topic among feminist artists, and its visibility is always linked to changes in the contemporary political discourse.”
In her new book, “Gendered: Art and Feminist Theory” (see box ), Dekel quotes Simone de Beauvoir in “The Second Sex”: “The feminine sex organ is mysterious to the woman herself, hidden, tormented, mucous, and humid; it bleeds each month, it is sometimes soiled with bodily fluids, it has a secret and dangerous life. It is largely because woman does not recognize herself in it that she does not recognize her own desires” (translation from French by Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier )
In the consciousness-raising groups that flourished in the United States in the 1970s, women familiarized themselves with their sex organ, for example, with the help of mirrors. They learned to like it.
As Roni Gross notes on her Hebrew-language blog “Sexual Relations,” Rozenblit is one of Israel’s few street and comics artists. “Rozenblit’s art is an effective feminist performance, internalizing the previous generation’s principles of feminism,” Dekel says.
“Her work insists on eliminating the separation between the private and the public both through ‘intervention’ on the street and by undermining what is ‘accepted’ as art suitable for placing in the public space, and with respect to its subversion of a more general position that tries to keep guard over kinds of issues that deserve ‘privacy’; women’s conversations, or at least the conversation between a woman and her partner, male or female, in the context of their intimate relations. That is, it is the good old principle of ‘the personal is the political.’ And it’s important and fascinating.”
Rozenblit makes it clear that she sees herself more as an activist than an artist. “I don’t think my images are amazing as far as talent is concerned. The idea is a very important part.”
She wants the drawings she displays on the street to “come into as many hands as possible.” They should “should do something in the world from a social perspective.”
Her target audience, she says, is “my contemporaries who aren’t interested in either feminism or art. Young people who hang out in pubs, drink beer, attend university and in between go to a demonstration or two, because that’s what’s happening now. This isn’t at all an audience for art. I don’t know the art audience and the art elite.”
The feminist motivation, she says, comes from the desire to make her voice heard. It comes, she says, from recognizing that “the fact I do things in maybe a different way doesn’t mean I’m not okay. It means I have a way of my own, which I see as a female way.”
This way includes street exhibitions, which she calls “art for every female worker.” She frames her pictures herself, with stuff she finds in the street. In the night following the closing of an exhibition, she leaves her works in the street, and anyone who wants can take them. This isn’t easy, she says, especially since she doesn’t know who’ll be doing the taking.
The teachers she works with know her work and are supportive, she says. They only worry that the comics book about the flowery vagina might fall out of her bag in the school corridor.