The Israeli art field has been negotiating with the definition of Israeli-ness since its beginnings and more even today, as “transnationalism” has become not only a lived daily experience among migrants or an ideological approach toward identity but also a challenge to the
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The Israeli art field has been negotiating with the definition of Israeli-ness since its beginnings and more even today, as “transnationalism” has become not only a lived daily experience among migrants or an ideological approach toward identity but also a challenge to the Zionist-Hebrew identity that is imposed on “repatriated” Jews. Young artists who reached Israel from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) as children in the 1990s not only retained their mother tongue but also developed a hyphenated first-generation immigrant identity and a transnational state of mind that have found artistic expression in projects and exhibitions in recent years, such as Odessa–Tel Aviv
(2017), Dreamland Never Found
(2018), and others. Nicolas Bourriaud’s botanical metaphor of the radicant, which insinuates successive or even “simultaneous en-rooting”, seems to be close to the 1.5-generation experience. Following the transnational perspective and the intersectional approach (the “inter” being of ethnicity, gender, and class), the article examines, among others, photographic works of three women artists: Angelika Sher (born 1969 in Vilnius, Lithuania), Vera Vladimirsky (born 1984 in Kharkiv, Ukraine), and Sarah Kaminker (born 1987 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine). All three reached Israel in the 1990s, attended Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, and currently live and work in Tel Aviv or (in Kaminker’s case) Haifa. The Zionist-oriented Israeli-ness of the Israeli art field is questioned in their works. Regardless of the different and peculiar themes and approaches that characterize each of these artists, their oeuvres touch on the senses of radicantity, strangeness, and displacement and show that, in the globalization discourse and routine transnational moving around, anonymous, generic, or hybrid likenesses become characteristics of what is called “home,” “national identity,” or “promised land.” Therefore, it seems that under the influence of this young generation, the local field of art is moving toward a re-framing of its Israeli national identity.