Special Issue "Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art"

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752). This special issue belongs to the section "Visual Arts".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Hava Aldouby
Website
Guest Editor
Senior Lecturer, Department of Literature, Language and the Arts, Open University of Israel, Ra'anana 43107, Israel
Interests: art history; moving image art; video art; experimental cinema; new media art; migratory aesthetics; neuroaesthetics; art–science interfaces

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In an age of the global movement of people, where geographical rooting is becoming tenuous, mobility is gaining greater attention as an existential condition that profoundly affects contemporary art. With Mieke Bal’s pioneering concept of migratory aesthetics (2007), a growing literature is currently meeting the challenge of conceptualizing the global shift that compels movement and breeds displaced existences. Saloni Mathur (2011) and Anne Ring Petersen (2017) have recently challenged art history to reckon with the mobility of artists as a foundational shift that "make[s] traditional notions of location, origin and authenticity seem obsolete and in urgent need of reconsideration" (Petersen 2017 88).

This Special Issue of Arts rests on the proposition that Israeli art presents a unique inflection of the global condition of mobility. Perhaps the most productive concept with which to approach Israeli art and artists is Nicolas Bourriaud's (2010) botanical metaphor of the radicant, which branches further into radicant art and radicant aesthetics. Designating the current cultural age as "altermodern", Bourriaud conceptualizes the subjects of altermodernity through the botanical differentiation between radical and radicant patterns of rooting. Whereas radical plants depend on a central root, deep-seated in a single locus of nourishing soil, "radicant" designates "an organism that grows its roots and adds new ones as it advances" (Bourriaud 2010, 22). Radicantity, as inflected by Bourriaud’s translators, thus implies "a multitude of simultaneous or successive enrootings" (22). Conceiving of Israeli art as essentially and foundationally radicant enables a nuanced look at its complex and troubled negotiations of belonging and "unbelonging" (Rogoff 2000), migration and homecoming, and the precariousness of ground and place.

Most subjects of Israeli identity reside in a circuit, in Bourriaud's terms, regardless of whether the migratory circuit has been experienced first-hand or historically inherited. The itineraries of migration involved in the formation of Israeli subject positions are urgently contemporary and at the same time reach several generations back, always revolving around historical centers of the Jewish diaspora. Curiously, the Wandering Jew might be regarded as the archetypal radicant, predating Bourriaud’s altermodernity by a couple of millennia.

Albeit ridden by conflicts and disputed from within and without, the shared ethos of homecoming, the notion of return to the land of origin from a bi-millennial diaspora, remains a unique factor undergirding Israeli radicantity. At the same time, the emergence of contemporary Israeli hubs worldwide—Berlin and New York being major examples—stresses the multi-directional flow of movement around the perceived place of origin. In addition, the patchwork composition of the Israeli art scene, as of Israeli society at large, consists of various identities under negotiation: Russian and former USSR, Ethiopian, French, and several other first- and second-generation immigrant groups; 1950s refugees from Muslim countries and their offspring; and first-, second-, and third-generation Holocaust survivors of European origin, constitute a partial list. Druse, Circassian, Bedouin, and Arab/Palestinian sectors negotiate Israeli-ness through prisms of social marginalization, ethnic Otherness, and political conflict, further underscoring radicant aspects of Israeli art and culture.

This issue seeks international contributions that approach Israeli art from the critical perspective outlined above, preferably interfacing the political with the aesthetic. Contributions are not limited to discussion of art produced in Israel, or by artists currently residing in Israel. Rather, this special issue of Arts proposes to attend to patterns of movement and homing, belonging and unbelonging, and to migratory/radicant themes in Israel-related contexts; contributions might address inter-generational reverberations of the "radicant condition"; Israeli artists’ hubs worldwide; and negotiations of Israeli-ness in various contexts. International proposals with other focal interests within this frame of inquiry are welcome.

Please send 150-word abstracts and a short bio to Dr. Hava Aldouby ([email protected]) by 30 March 2019.

References

Bal, Mieke, "Lost in Space, Lost in the Library," in Essays in Migratory Aesthetics: Cultural Practices Between Migration and Art-making, eds. Sam Durrant and Catherine M. Lord (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2007), 23–36.
Bourriaud, Nicolas, The Radicant, trans. James Gussen and Lili Porten (New York: Lukas & Sternberg, 2010).
Mathur, Saloni, ed., The Migrant’s Time: Rethinking Art History and Diaspora (Williamstown, Mass.: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2011).
Petersen, Anne Ring, Migration into Art; Transcultural Identities and Art-making in a Globalised World (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017).
Rogoff, Irit, Terra Infirma; Georaphy’s Visual Culture (London: Routledge, 2000).

Dr. Hava Aldouby
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Arts is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Israeli art
  • migration or immigration
  • migratory aesthetics
  • radicant aesthetics
  • mobility
  • diaspora
  • homeland

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Fragile Traces, Treacherous Sands: Ronen Sharabani and Micha Ullman’s Intergenerational Encounter
Arts 2020, 9(2), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020073 - 23 Jun 2020
Abstract
This paper addresses an intriguing intergenerational encounter between Micha Ullman (b. Tel Aviv 1939), one of Israel’s most prominent senior artists, and Ronen Sharabani (b. Tel Aviv 1974), a young media artist. The two artists’ otherwise divergent practices converge in their use of [...] Read more.
This paper addresses an intriguing intergenerational encounter between Micha Ullman (b. Tel Aviv 1939), one of Israel’s most prominent senior artists, and Ronen Sharabani (b. Tel Aviv 1974), a young media artist. The two artists’ otherwise divergent practices converge in their use of sand and red earth as their primary media. The paper brings Mieke Bal’s concept of migratory aesthetics and Jill Bennett’s phenomenological approach to trauma-related art to bear on Ullman’s fragile earth installations and perforated sand tables, and on Sharabani’s projections of Virtual Reality onto sand. Also addressed is Sharabani’s series Vitual Territories (2019), in which digitally manipulated views from Google Earth probe geographical sites that resonate with migratory histories. The paper traces two main trajectories upon which the oeuvres of Ullman and Sharabani interface. The first category, “treacherous sands”, relates to installations involving sand tables and other containers of soil. In turn, the category of “fragile traces” addresses installations that feature various architectural ground plans modeled in sand. In these installations, sand is the quintessential terra infirma. At the same time, however, the paper proposes that through the haptic appeal of the medium of sand, these installations counter the pervasive anxiety of shifting ground with an augmented sense of bodily presence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art)
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Open AccessArticle
Three Mothers (2006) by Dina Zvi-Riklis: The Repressed Israeli Trauma of Immigration
Arts 2020, 9(2), 71; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020071 - 16 Jun 2020
Abstract
This article relates to the complex approach of Dina Zvi-Riklis’ film Three Mothers (2006) to immigration, an issue that is central to both the Jewish religion and Israeli identity. While for both, reaching the land of Israel means arriving in the promised land, [...] Read more.
This article relates to the complex approach of Dina Zvi-Riklis’ film Three Mothers (2006) to immigration, an issue that is central to both the Jewish religion and Israeli identity. While for both, reaching the land of Israel means arriving in the promised land, they are quite dissimilar, in that one is a religious command, while the other is an ideological imperative. Both instruct the individual to opt for the obliteration of his past. However, this system does not apply to the protagonists of Three Mothers, a film which follows the extraordinary trajectory of triplet sisters, born to a rich Jewish family in Alexandria, who are forced to leave Egypt after King Farouk’s abdication and immigrate to Israel. This article will demonstrate that Three Mothers represents an outstanding achievement, because it dares to deal with its protagonists’ longing for the world left behind and the complexity of integrating the past into the present. Following Nicholas Bourriaud’s radicant theory, designating an organism that grows roots and adds new ones as it advances, this article will argue that, although the protagonists of Three Mothers never avow their longing for Egypt, the film’s narrative succeeds in revealing a subversive démarche, through which the sisters succeed in integrating Egypt into their present. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art)
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Open AccessArticle
The National, the Diasporic, and the Canonical: The Place of Diasporic Imagery in the Canon of Israeli National Art
Arts 2020, 9(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9020042 - 26 Mar 2020
Abstract
This article explores Jerusalem-based art practice from the 1930s to the 1960s, focusing particularly on the German immigrant artists that dominated this field in that period. I describe the distinct aesthetics of this art and explain its role in the Zionist nation-building project. [...] Read more.
This article explores Jerusalem-based art practice from the 1930s to the 1960s, focusing particularly on the German immigrant artists that dominated this field in that period. I describe the distinct aesthetics of this art and explain its role in the Zionist nation-building project. Although Jerusalem’s art scene participated significantly in creating a Jewish–Israeli national identity, it has been accorded little or no place in the canon of national art. Adopting a historiographic approach, I focus on the artist Mordecai Ardon and the activities of the New Bezalel School and the Jerusalem Artists Society. Examining texts and artworks associated with these institutions through the prism of migratory aesthetics, I claim that the art made by Jerusalem’s artists was rooted in their diasporic identities as East or Central European Jews, some German-born, others having settled in Germany as children or young adults. These diasporic identities were formed through their everyday lives as members of a Jewish diaspora in a host country—whether that be the Russian Empire, Poland, or Germany. Under their arrival in Palestine, however, the diasporic Jewish identities of these immigrants (many of whom were not initially Zionists) clashed with the Zionist–Jewish identity that was hegemonic in the nascent field of Israeli art. Ultimately, this friction would exclude the immigrants’ art from being inducted into the national art canon. This is misrepresentative, for, in reality, these artists greatly influenced the Zionist nation-building project. Despite participating in a number of key Zionist endeavours—whether that of establishing practical professions or cementing the young nation’s collective consciousness through graphic propaganda—they were marginalized in the artistic field. This exclusion, I claim, is rooted in the dynamics of canon formation in modern Western art, the canon of Israeli national art being one instance of these wider trends. Diasporic imagery could not be admitted into the Israeli canon because that canon was intrinsically connected with modern nationalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art)
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Open AccessArticle
Radicant Israeli Art: From Past to Future
Arts 2020, 9(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts9010016 - 06 Feb 2020
Abstract
Mieke Bal’s concept of “migratory aesthetics” and the observation by Saloni Mathur and Anne Ring Peterson that “traditional notions of location, origin and authenticity seem obsolete and in urgent need of reconsideration” perfectly encompass the phrase “Jewish art”, and within that difficult-to-define subject, [...] Read more.
Mieke Bal’s concept of “migratory aesthetics” and the observation by Saloni Mathur and Anne Ring Peterson that “traditional notions of location, origin and authenticity seem obsolete and in urgent need of reconsideration” perfectly encompass the phrase “Jewish art”, and within that difficult-to-define subject, Israeli art (which, among other things, is not always “Jewish”). As Hava Aldouby has noted, Israeli art presents a unique inflection of the global condition of mobility—which in fact contributes to the problem of easily defining the category of “Israeli art”. Nothing could be more appropriate to the discussion of Israeli art, or to the larger definitional problem of “Jewish art” than to explore it through Nicolas Bourriaud’s botanical metaphor of the “radicant”, and thus the notion of “radicant art”. The important distinction that Bourriaud offers between radical and radicant plants—whereby the former type depends upon a central root, deep-seated in a single nourishing soil site, whereas the latter is an “organism that grows its roots and adds new ones as it advances…” with “…a multitude of simultaneous or successive enrootings”—is a condition that may be understood for both Israeli and Jewish art, past and present: Aldouby’s notion that the image of the Wandering Jew offers the archetypal radicant, informs both the “altermodernity” concept and Israeli art. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art)
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Open AccessArticle
Israeli-Ness or Israeli-Less? How Israeli Women Artists from FSU Deal with the Place and Role of “Israeli-Ness” in the Era of Transnationalism
Arts 2019, 8(4), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040159 - 04 Dec 2019
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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 (2017), Pravda (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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art)
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Open AccessArticle
An Aesthetic Pattern of Nonbelonging—Immigration and Identity in Contemporary Israeli Art
Arts 2019, 8(4), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts8040157 - 26 Nov 2019
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Radicant Patterns in Israeli Art)
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