Returning to nature
A new contemporary art exhibition at the University Botanical Garden in Jerusalem
Participating artists (in order A-B): Eitan Ben Moshe, Yaakov Dorchin, Maya Dunietz, Tsibi Geva, Eli Gur Arie, Menashe Kadishman, Dani Karavan, Sigalit Landau, Ella Littwitz, Saher Miari, Moshe Roas, Yehudit Sasportas, Yaara Zach, Guy Zagursky.
Curator: Hadas Maor
'Returning to Nature' is a new contemporary art exhibition that opened with the approval of the re-opening of the Botanical Garden on 19/10/2020, at the initiative of the University Botanical Garden in Jerusalem and in collaboration with the Outset Fund for Contemporary Art.
In light of the current period and the corona crisis, the possibilities of spending time in open spaces become particularly important. The botanical garden, which covers 120 dunams, is the largest garden in Israel and the only one of its kind in the Middle East. Therefore, the general public can walk around the garden freely and without fear. Spending time in nature allows observation, and provides relaxation, peace and balance for the soul.
The new exhibition, curated by Hadas Maor, includes about 15 large sculptures by leading contemporary artists that have been specially adapted to the display conditions in the garden. Among the artwork there are iconic works by artists such as Menashe Kadishman and Dani Karavan, works by established artists such as Tsibi Geva, Yehudit Sasports and Sigalit Landau, and works by younger artists such as Ella Littwitz, Yaara Zach, Saher Miari, Moshe Roas and more.
Hadas Maor the curator commented: "Following the eruption of the corona, institutions and cultural centers around the world were forced to stop their activities, and the fact that the exhibition at the Botanical Garden was formed during this period, despite the huge uncertainty about its very existence, is particularly noteworthy to me. This initiative values cultural action and real support for the local art field, both from the botanical garden and from the Outset Fund for Contemporary Art."
Maor also notes "the title of the project indicates a return to the outside after a long period of closure due to the outbreak of the corona virus, but also a dimension of return to nature present in the local sculptural language. In this context, the project reveals constant movement between works that rely on the use of defined outlines and heavy materials like iron or bronze, and works that use synthetic materials like rubber, latex or polyester as well as softened and rounded forms.."
There are also two new works which were produced especially for the exhibition and in accordance with the garden space: one of the works is a new sound work by Maya Dunietz, which responds directly to the sounds of the garden. The other, is the first presentation in Israel of a chapter from the Liquid Desert project by Yehudit Sasportas, the first part of which was shown in Germany in January 2019.
The placement of the various works will be spread throughout the gardens in visible and hidden spaces, and will create a circular walking path where the plants, as well as the sculptures, are discovered by the visitor while in motion. Some of the works have a formal, material and narrative dialogue with the plants around them, and others retain their foreignness. Together the various works will present a rich and layered prism of local sculptural work.
A virtual tour of the exhibition
Taking into account the current COVID-19 crisis and allowing for those in isolation to experience the exhibition, an excellent virtual tour and free educational resources online have been built. This also allows for those outside of Israel to enjoy this collaboration of Israeli artists exhibiting in nature and thus enable an international reach of a universally relevant issue.
In parallel with the exhibition, a detailed program of educational activities for groups and schools has been created. Combining educational content in the exhibition and promoting the discourse around art in the open space, this allows us to strengthen the necessary connection between nature, a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and art. It is important to note that the botanical kindergarten works with over 250 schools and kindergartens from all over Jerusalem guiding the teaching staff in the agricultural as well as the pedagogical aspect. Building educational gardens encourages children and their families to grow food, recognize and preserve extinct species and work the land.
Hannah Randall, Executive Director – Strategic Development: "I am proud and excited to add “outdoor museum” to our repertoire at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens; this has been a goal of ours for quite some time. During this pandemic it became clearer that there was and is a need to bring artwork and culture outside. Thanks to Outset Contemporary Art Fund, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Jerusalem Foundation and a number of art collectors and supporters, we were able to move fast enough during the lockdown to create a responsive and exceptional experience. This exhibition marks the first of many such collaborations and artistic initiatives that connect art, culture and nature.
Opening hours: Sunday to Saturday 09:00 - 18:00
Admission to the exhibition is included in the price of admission to the garden
Entrance fee 35 NIS for an adult, free Jerusalem children, 28 NIS for Jerusalem card holders
Guided tours and activities in the exhibition will take place later
For more details, Givat Ram Botanical Garden 02-6794012
Exhibition site and catalogue www.jbgculture.com