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An Aesthetic Pattern of Nonbelonging—Immigration and Identity in Contemporary Israeli Art

Department of Arts, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O.B. 653, Beer-Sheva 8410501, Israel
Arts 2019, 8(4), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040157
Received: 18 October 2019 / Revised: 5 November 2019 / Accepted: 12 November 2019 / Published: 26 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art)
This research pinpoints a local pattern of migratory aesthetics recurrently employed by four Israeli artists in the early years of the 21st century. I argue that works by artists Philip Rantzer, Gary Goldstein, Haim Maor, and David Wakstein showcase a hybrid migratory self-definition that is embedded in the artistic language itself. By harnessing a collagistic language of juxtaposition and fragmentation, they frame Israeli identity as uncanny, reflecting a cultural mindset of being neither “here” nor “there”. I contend that this pattern is used by a particular generation of artists, born in the early 1950s, and reflects a reaction, in hindsight, to the Zionist ethos of collective local identity. Employing old photographs from their family albums that they transform into framed detached figures, these artists draw upon childhood memories of immigration. Their art marks an identity clash between two homelands, which is the result of intertwined aesthetic and socio-cultural characteristics. The first is evident in the prevalent use of collage in local art—in itself a language of oppositions. The second is the negation of the diaspora in the Israeli socio-cultural mentality, which constructs identity through binary thinking. To date, no other study has acknowledged this aesthetic pattern nor the common ground these artists share in their works. View Full-Text
Keywords: migration; immigration; Israeli art; identity stratification; negation of diaspora; historiography of art; holocaust representations; childhood memories; familial photograph albums; collage migration; immigration; Israeli art; identity stratification; negation of diaspora; historiography of art; holocaust representations; childhood memories; familial photograph albums; collage
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Gashinsky, E. An Aesthetic Pattern of Nonbelonging—Immigration and Identity in Contemporary Israeli Art. Arts 2019, 8, 157.

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