Arts & Culture

The best in art, museums, theater, dance, opera and performances in Israel

The wandering troubadour
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The wandering troubadour

Bob Dylan is a man of many layers. Throughout his life, he has taken on many personas: folk singer, rock star, radio personality, lover, family man, Jew, poet, painter, legend. Peeling away at those layers reveals the true depth of his personas. Here lies the mission of Amitai Achiman and Asaf Galay, exhibition curators of Forever Young – Bob Dylan at 75.

The beauty of Batsheva
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The beauty of Batsheva

The Batsheva Dance Company continues to capture Tel Avivian hearts deep into the winter season with incredible young talent and show stopping performances. What's on Ohad Naharin's menu this month?

Banksy does Bourgeoisie? The shocking truth behind the street artist's supposed exhibition in Herzliya
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Banksy does Bourgeoisie? The shocking truth behind the street artist's supposed exhibition in Herzliya

When the news leaked that anti-corporate, anti-commercialist, anti-identity  street artist, Banksy, was coming to Herzliya's Arena Mall, the media went wild. "Banksy is coming to Herzliya!" they wrote, each word steeped in disbelief. For years, Banksy secretly hung his artistic political criticisms in museums around the world – from Melbourne to Amsterdam and everything in between – revolutionizing the public's notion of graffiti with his stenciling technique. His pop-up nightmarish amusement park, Dismaland, drew the media to him, or more so the idea of him as Banksy preserved anonymity, shying away from the spotlight.   © Banksy       While he favors covertness, there are two things we do know about the street artist: 1) He is British, most likely Bristol and 2) "The Art of Banksy", his supposed upcoming exhibit in Herzliya has been curated against his will.   Yes, that's right. As the exhibition suggests in its title, Israel may be gaining the physical art of Banksy from April 4th to 18th (including famous pieces like "The Girl With The Balloon" and "Laugh Now"); however, what they will not see is any Banksy spirit or intention behind the exhibition.   © Banksy The first red flag came with the press release, boasting, "This exhibition is unique...you will never again see such an impressive amount of his work all concentrated in one place". On the contrary, each of Banksy's works are unique, and deserve their own attention, not a mass showing. The s

Israeli culture: classical music across the country
Music

Israeli culture: classical music across the country

When treating your senses to mouthwatering Israeli market fare and beautiful sights from north to south in the world’s holiest country, it is only fair to treat your ears as well. All across the country, Israeli art galleries and museums, theaters screening Israeli movies, cultural centres, hotels, libraries, conservatories and even kibbutzim are hosting classical and chamber concert series for the public ear. From Tel Aviv’s infamous Charles Bronfman Auditorium, home to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, to more intimate settings like the quaint concert hall inside the Felicja Blumental Music Center and Music Library, these classical and chamber music venues invite the Mozart enthusiast right down to the curious tourist to enjoy. Dress to the nines, grab an early bird prix fixe dinner and a fine bottle of Israeli wine at one of the top romantic restaurants in Tel Aviv, but save room for dessert: the sweet, sweet harmonies of classical Israeli culture, drizzled with Vivaldi and sprinkled with Strauss.

The story of Abe Pinchuk’s “Negev” collection
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The story of Abe Pinchuk’s “Negev” collection

“Do I consider myself a Jewish painter? By virtue that I’m Jewish, I’m a Jewish painter” —Abe Pinchuk   I first came across Abe Pinchuk’s paintings when I was on a birthright trip. My grandfather was a strong supporter of Israel and both frequented and donated to the Holy Land on a regular basis, so at age 24, I was ecstatic to finally brave the legendary Masada. After two hours of sleep, a cliché sunrise hike, and an hour-long trek down the winding snake path, my legs were weary and my system drained from the unbearable July heat. I stumbled into the air-conditioned visitor’s centre ready for a nap, but instead experienced an unexpected awakening. At first, I thought what was standing before my eyes was a mirage – that I was delirious from dehydration – however, I quickly realized that the ten gargantuan oil paintings of Negev landscapes more beautiful than the real deal were in fact tangible.     Majestic Pillars, King Solomon's Mines© Salman Abu-Rukun   It only took one round of playing the all-too-familiar game of Jewish geography to discover that by an act of serendipity, Rachel Meland, my new friend from the trip, was the artist’s granddaughter. Seeing the pride she took in her grandfather’s paintings on display at Masada inspired me to reach out to Abe and unravel their history.   “I had been to Israel a number of times, but on the last trip I made, I spent some time in the Negev and fell in love with the way the desert is formed; the mountains, the erosio

Must-see art exhibitions in Israel

Tattoos: The human body as a work of art
Museums

Tattoos: The human body as a work of art

The worldwide culture of tattooing is currently enjoying a renewed historical examination; in the wake of modernization and globalization processes a new global social approach is developing which adopts the art of tattooing and recognizes its importance and uniqueness. The exhibition deals with the history of the art of tattoo and presents the diverse contemporary artistic styles in Israel and abroad. The exhibit devotes a large section to contemporary tattoo art and to the Israeli tattoo community, as it is captured in the lens of Kaakooa Project, alongside works of additional artists and photographers in Israel and abroad.

Take a nostalgic trip to the Hundred Acre Wood with Beit Ariela's 'Winnie the Pooh' exhibition
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Take a nostalgic trip to the Hundred Acre Wood with Beit Ariela's 'Winnie the Pooh' exhibition

It's hard to believe that 90 years have passed since the pantless honey-loving bear and his quirky cast of friends first stepped into our literary lives. British author, A. A. Milne, wrote the 'Winnie the Pooh' series for his son Christopher Robin, incorporating him and his stuffed animals into each fantastical tale. While Pooh's adventures have taken him to many places over the decades, on February 26th, he will be traveling farther and wider than ever before – to the Land of Milk and Honey. And we all know how much Pooh loves his honey. © PR The exhibition, titled 'Simple Pleasures', will feature illustrations of the cuddly hero of children's literature as he wanders down Rothschild Boulevard, explores Mahane Yehuda with Piglet, picks oranges on a kibbutz orchard and revels in the abundance of his all-time favorite food staple during Rosh Hashanah. The original illustrations were drawn by English artist, Kim Raymond, and will be featured at Beit Ariela Library.   While Milne's picture books present themselves as children's tales, much like Dr. Seuss, the philosophical messages and proverbs tailor to adult audiences. Bring your children to marvel at Pooh while you find eternal wisdom in the most surprising of places. © PR All events are free. Plus, as a part of the opening day, children's author, Yehuda Atlas, will read excerpts from 'Winnie the Pooh'. Following the grand opening, there will be story hours and creative writing workshops offered every week

Ronen Sharabani: Snap to Grid
Museums

Ronen Sharabani: Snap to Grid

Sharabani’s new work, which he calls a “Smart Exhibition,” is comprised of imagery projections against a very large wall at the museum and includes computer renderings and 3D environments which are also be translated to VR. The name of the exhibition comes from the computer command that sorts digital icons and allows the artist to create chaotic simulations. Clicking on the button creates a new structural order which is the basis of his creation. The magical digital button is the dream of every person who strives for order, simple solutions, and an external intervention that will organize the chaos.  

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The Tel Aviv Museum of Art exposes the colorful life of buttons
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The Tel Aviv Museum of Art exposes the colorful life of buttons

Whether sewn safely onto a cloth coat or lost somewhere in a jewelry drawer, a simple decorative piece or the unassuming hero, a nostalgic relic or a piece of warped plastic – what a button lacks in size, it makes up for in rich history and personality. © PR       Believe it or not, these seemingly Lilliputian ornaments have played a significant role in the attestation of social status, were once banned from Churches, yet enforced onto the jacket sleeves of Prussian servants, and have even led to two full-fledged wars. Over time, buttons have become vehicles for beautification and artistic expression. They are fabricated from a wide range of materials, including traditional ivory, bone, wood and various metals, as well as ceramic, mother of pearl, tortoise shell and synthetic substances like celluloid, glass, Bakelite and plastic.   © PR       Button collecting is an "act of passion, for some, almost an obsession". Curator Dr. Doron J. Lurie found beauty in this passionate obsession and translated it to a brilliant exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Gilding the Lily: Buttons and Other Ornaments brings tens of thousands of buttons from private collections together with the purpose of shining the much-deserved spotlight on their boundless beauty.   On display through June 10, 2017. Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 27 Shaul HaMelech Blvd (tamuseum.org.il)

Israeli Dance & Theater

Vanity mirror: an interview with Stefano Poda, opera director
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Vanity mirror: an interview with Stefano Poda, opera director

Stefano Poda conquers direction, choreography, set, lighting & costume design when translating his operatic interpretations to the stage. The Italian virtuoso has already mastered Wagner, Puccini and Verdi worldwide, and now, he's finally pairing up with the Israeli Opera for a special coproduction of Goethe's Faust. We went backstage with the man behind the magic to find out more about the dramatic performance on stage this month.     © PR       From Andrea Chenierin Seoul to Othello in Budapest, you're quite well-traveled. Do you have a favorite place in which you have directed? Not at all. It’s like being a mother. Your last child is always your favorite. In Opera, your very last creature is the one you love the most.   Have you directed in Israel before? This is my first time here and I already feel a beautiful energy.     Do you play any instruments? I'm not a musician, but have listened to music my whole life. The Magic Flute was my lullaby. I believe that music is the soul of a person. There can be no body without a soul, so my relationship with the conductor is vital.   And how was working with conductor Dan Ettinger? Incredible. Our chemistry was good from the moment we met. I am uniquely responsible for taking five individual aspects (direction, choreography, aesthetics, lighting & costume design) and creating a synthesis in the final product. Dan immediately understood this cohesion and translated it to his music.        

Israeli culture: ten performing arts centres worth a ticket
Theater

Israeli culture: ten performing arts centres worth a ticket

While London and New York gave birth to broadway musicals, the Jerusalem and Cameri theatres are up-and-coming. While Italian opera and symphony scene is ‘magnifico’, the Israel Philharmonic is absolutely breathtaking. And nothing compares to the batsheva dance company. All this to say, that although Israel has been associated with ancient history for many years, the Israeli culture scene is a contemporary breath of fresh air, growing by the second. These top ten performing arts centres are perfect compliments to the impressive galleries and museums scattered across the country. Find the hottest upcoming events here. We urge you to try and check all ten off your bucket list.

Five alternative performing arts centres in Tel Aviv that contribute to Israeli culture
Attractions

Five alternative performing arts centres in Tel Aviv that contribute to Israeli culture

When asked where to find theatre in the nonstop city, Tel Avivians and tourists alike will often answer ‘Suzanne Dellal Centre’ or ‘Habima’ without thinking twice. While it is true that these performing arts centres are a huge contribution to Israeli culture and boast internationally acclaimed names to match, they mask the beauty that comes from Tel Aviv’s more alternative performance spaces. There’s no denying that a Thursday night out in the city that never sleeps is a must, but sometimes a dinner for two at a romantic restaurant in Tel Aviv around Sarona and an indie theater performance at Tzavta provides for a nice change of pace – and much less of a friday morning post-drunk munch hangover. Check out what’s on this month for updates on what to see where. Also, don’t forget to hop over to Jaffa for more alternative performances.  

Five alternative venues to see theatre and dancing in Jaffa
Theater

Five alternative venues to see theatre and dancing in Jaffa

Jaffa has jumped on the bandwagon of alternative performing arts centres. With its extremely rich cultural diversity, it seems the perfect place to do so too. From the blending of Arab-Hebrew culture on a single stage at the Jaffa theatre, to the Israeli dance focused Warehouse 2 in the Old Port conceived by the Israel Choreographers Association, these five quaint yet funky spaces give theater and dancing in Jaffa the attention it deserves. Head to one of Jaffa’s best restaurants or grab a quick bite of authentic Jaffa street food, then head to one of these venues for a truly unique experience. Let the Old Port city surprise you with more than just its stunning rooftop weddings boasting brides in their one-of-a-kind Israeli wedding dresses and beautiful views of the Mediterranean shoreline spanning from the beaches of Tel Aviv to Bat Yam, Herzliya, Netanya and beyond.

Five Indie theaters to catch International and Israeli movies
Movie theaters

Five Indie theaters to catch International and Israeli movies

…then you’ve come to the right place. Sometimes the must-see Hollywood ‘movie of the month’ becomes unappealing after seeing a million promotional posters pasted all over Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff street or Haifa’s Downtown area. That’s when these five indie theaters come into play. From Lev to Cinematheque, malls in Israel to stand alone venues, Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to Haifa, these quainter theaters air International and Israeli movies and host some of the top film festivals Israeli culture has to offer, like DocAviv. An indie film at one of these five places may just be the perfect rainy day escape or family-friendly thing to do in Jerusalem this Shabbat.  

Top Israeli dance companies

Batsheva Dance Company
Dance

Batsheva Dance Company

Batsheva Dance Company has been critically acclaimed as one of the foremost contemporary dance ensembles in the world. The company, together with the Batsheva Young Ensemble, hosts a team of 34 dancers, pulled from Israel and abroad. It is choreographed by Ohad Naharin, who has been hailed as one of the world’s preeminent contemporary choreographers. Batsheva uses the innovative movement language, Gaga, a creation of Naharin, which has revolutionized the company’s training. Since its inception Batsheva Dance Company has boasted a world-class reputation, and although its style and structure has changed drastically over the years, it never disappoints.  

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company
Dance

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company

One of the leading dance companies in israel is Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. Artistic Director Rami Be’er’s exclusive and distinct choreographic character has become the company’s trademark in Israel and abroad. Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company contains a cast of physically eclectic dancers, who have both technical skills and strength along with dynamic sensibilities. The company performs regularly at some of the most respected festivals and theatres worldwide. Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company calls its home at the International Dance Village in Kibbutz Ga’aton, a location as beautiful as the performances crafted there.  

Jerusalem Vertigo Dance Company
Dance

Jerusalem Vertigo Dance Company

Noa Wertheim and Adi Sha’al, partners in life and in dance, founded the Vertigo Dance Company in 1992, named after their first professional collaboration. The performance was built upon the concept of spinning out of control, not just in the air, but in relationships. This is how the two craft the performances for Vertigo Dance Company- by artistically commenting on relatable experiences. Vertigo offers a physical meeting place for artists and the audience. They aim to take the viewer on a journey to new or unexpected, exciting and challenging territories. Vertigo Dance Company strives to bring people closer together and touch them through the language of dance and the body.

Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company
Dance

Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company

Together Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak have been involved in the creation, direction, choreography and design of unique and award winning performances for their company. Acclaimed abroad, as well as within Israel, the company consists of twelve dancer/actors who share a collective goal to connect artistic disciplines. The choreography uses light, sound, color, space and the human body to tell stories. Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company aims to stage productions birthed from memories, longings, ideas and imagination to create a unique experience for the viewer.  

Yasmeen Godder Dance Company
Dance

Yasmeen Godder Dance Company

Yasmeen Godder was born in Jerusalem and grew up in New York City, where she studied dance at some of the top programs in New York. To date she has created twelve evening-length works, and has been commissioned by some of the top dance companies in Israel and abroad. Yasmeen Godder’s choreography has won her numerous awards, and two books have been written about her work. In 2007, Godder opened a studio in Jaffa, which has become home to her projects, including open classes and workshops, community exchanges, performances, and production support. She performs both solo shows and with collaborators.

Best museums in Israel

Tel Aviv Museum of Art
Museums

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Gracing the walls of this museum are Israel’s most comprehensive collections of modern, contemporary, and Israeli art. The museum boasts an impressive collection of the old masters, diverse temporary exhibitions, displays of photography, design & architecture, a performance hall, and a beautiful, calming sculpture garden to wander around or relax in. When visiting, don’t miss the newest addition to the museum, the Herta and Paul Amir Building, which was designed by professor Preston Scott Cohen. Built around a spiraling, 90-foot high atrium, the Herta and Paul Amir Building is an architectural wonder. The interior space provides a unique setting for the display of contemporary art, a center for architecture, and a gallery.

Design Museum Holon
Museums

Design Museum Holon

Meticulously curated exhibits display the utmost of thoughtful and esteemed contemporary works. Famed architect Ron Arad's winding spiral of modernity encompasses one of Israel’s most stand-out venues for progressive art and design. A short drive from downtown Tel Aviv, it's definitely worth the visit.

The Israel Museum
Museums

The Israel Museum

Arguably Israel’s most magnificent cultural asset, the Israel Museum is consistently ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Housing encyclopedic collections with works dating from prehistory to the present day in archaeology, fine art, and Jewish art, this is the place to get schooled on Israel’s 5,000-year history.

Eretz Israel Museum
Museums

Eretz Israel Museum

Unique for a number of reasons, the Eretz Israel Museum is especially unusual because its grounds encompass the archeological site of Tel Qasile, dating back to the 12th century B.C.E. The museum houses impressive, permanent collections of coins, mosaics, and Jewish folkloric objects from various periods and regions.

MoBY: Museum of Bat Yam
Museums

MoBY: Museum of Bat Yam

The greater Tel Aviv-Jaffa metropolitan area is scattered with galleries and museums. Among these are the Museums of Bat Yam. The MoBY is separated into three spaces operating in the heart of Bat Yam: the David Ben-Ari Museum for Contemporary Art (main building displaying temporary exhibits, community programs and academic conferences), the Rybak House and the Sholem Asch Museum (home to the MoBY’s permanent collection). From addressing globalism in “The Kids Want Communism” to an exhibition featuring the works of local Bat Yam artists, the three-museum complex will surely captivate the most curious art enthusiasts.  

Yad Vashem - World Holocaust Remembrance Center
Museums

Yad Vashem - World Holocaust Remembrance Center

Yad Vashem’s 45-acre campus comprises indoor museums and outdoor monuments, exhibitions, memorial sites, gardens, sculptures, and world-class research and education centers – all devoted to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. The hollowed-out cavern with a single candle reflected by a series of mirrors commemorates the 1.5 million children killed.