According to its publicity materials, “Response Art: An Experiment in Politics, Power, and Pop-Culture,” the exhibit currently running at the Dershowitz Center for Pro-Israel Art, deep in Brooklyn’s South Slope neighborhood, promises to show what happens when artists and intellectuals “struggle together towards a new understanding of Israel and the Middle East — aided by the vision of artists inspired by the tremendous burst of cultural creativity unleashed during the ‘Arab Spring’ and ‘Israeli Summer.’”
Over the past few months, the artists involved attended a series of lectures and panel discussions exploring the current situation in Israel. They were then asked to “transform the themes, arguments, and emotions they observed into art.” The work on exhibit now is the result of this process — their “response,” as it were.
One can imagine something great and necessary coming out of this: a challenging mix of competing ideas, Jews and Palestinians coming together at last to engage frankly and honestly, at least through art, in the hard conversations that are required if either side is going to survive. But that assumption would be naïve.