In the world of Jewish museums and art collections, there is no more iconic landscape than Jerusalem. But how many ways can one see the Dome of the Rock, the Old City gates or the shuk at Mahane Yehuda before they become static tropes? With such a heavily charged backdrop, photography of Jerusalem often devolves into bland suggestions about what people struggle with and share in the sacred city.
“The Pieces of Me: L.A. GOAL,” a new exhibit at Los Angeles’s Skirball Cultural Center, inverts the challenge of most contemporary art shows.
Watching an actor burst into tears during a monologue, Hamlet marvels at how the performer inhabits the scene so deeply — if only he could evoke such dramatic feelings in real life, Hamlet reasons, he might save his kingdom. Thus inspired, Shakespeare’s hero rewrites the script of a play that dramatizes what’s wrong with his country, and presents it at the royal theater. Hamlet believes he can use the stage to shake-up the state; Israel’s actors seem to have taken the cue.
The restaurant and dance club Selam has all the hallmarks of an inspiring Israeli success story. Selam is owned and operated by Yaacov, an Eritrean refugee who trekked across the Sinai desert and risked his life to reach the Jewish state. Now in the country three years, Yaacov — who would give only his first name because of his unclear legal status — prefers to speak English, but emphasizes his hope to stay in Israel “Be-ezrat Hashem,” with God’s help.
Largely unknown abroad, Amir Benayoun is one of the most talented musicians in Israel. Composing and performing a complex blend of traditional North African, classical Western and Israeli rock music, the 35-year-old Benayoun has earned the acclaim of critics and the adoration of fans across musical and social divides. His voice, at once powerful and undulating, rapturous and guttural, refines an aesthetic elegance out of the popular Mizrahi genre.
This Saturday, May 15th, will be the first illegal Nakba Day in the state of Israel’s history. Due to a law passed by the Knesset last summer, any organization that receives public funds will be forbidden from taking part in demonstrations that commemorate the “Nakba,” an Arabic term for the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian population during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.