Photo by Neta Alonim
The iconography of fashion is perhaps not the most obvious tool with which to parse the complexities of the Middle East. Still, everything else seems to have failed; more to the point, style does shares a common vocabulary. So, why not?
“InSALAAM, InSHALOM,” a fashion collection and multimedia exhibit curated by the New York based fashion house threeASFOUR, is an ambitious exploration of the visual cues that establish a kinship between the diverse cultures of the eastern Mediterranean. That “visual vocabulary” is the starting point for a consideration of the less-obvious ties between Jewish and Arab cultures; “by presenting these different cultural talismans as a unity, the collection forms an aesthetic expression of sensitive coexistence.”
There’s no harm in observing that “InSALAAM, InSHALOM” states something of the obvious — at least up to a point. Despite the fractious relationship between the two tribes through the ages, it’s only reasonable to expect some cultural cross-pollination. To its credit, however, the exhibition — spread across four floors of Beit Ha’ir, the elegant mandate-era building in Tel Aviv that was the home of the city’s first mayors — doesn’t merely join the dots, but strives towards a meaningful statement about relations across the cultural and political divide.