More and more frequently, artists from all genres are breaking the boundaries that once defined–and ultimately boxed in–their predecessors. Indie musicians are borrowing contemporary dancers for music videos, dancers are borrowing videographers, robots, and three-panel triptych paintings for their performances, and now, seven leading Israeli artists/photographers are borrowing librettos from the Israeli Opera House's seven upcoming operas.
OPERART is the first exhibition of its kind. Through the medium of contemporary photography, the exhibition–which will open at the Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art on November 2– aims to slice into the already densely layered opera cake to reveal the rich coffee cream and chocolate ganache hiding inside. While each photographer bases their work on a specific opera coming to Tel Aviv this year, these new photographic layers are autonomous–free from the director's or conductor's interpretations.
Artist Adi Brenda, for instance, takes on the young bohemians of Paris that make up Puccini's La Bohème (Nov-Dec 2017), this year's operatic opener. Brenda bridges the gap between the opera's heroine, Mimi, and Maria Callas, the glamorous queen of opera who ended her life in Parisian solitude (some say she died of a broken heart). Themes of vengeance take over Brenda's haunting piece, achieved through the strange combination of a piercing gaze and dissolving figure, allowing for a camera shutter effect that both reveals and reduces simultaneously.
Another intriguing interpretation comes to life in Gilad Ophir's piece, which tackles Mozart's classic Don Giovanni (Feb 2018). Ophir's more abstract work captures Don Giovanni's disintegration and eventual demise as fear fills his heart for the first time–a fear of death. It is only through this fear that he is able to connect with his reality. The piece's ice cold death and fiery flames of Inferno blend into one moment, which is also the climax of the opera.
Artist Michal Chelbin takes on the iconic beast that is Carmen (July 2018). Carmen's character challenges both life and death. While she cannot live within norms pushed upon her, she prefers to die free than to live a life enslaved by a man she no longer loves. Chelbin chose a bullfighter as her photographic subject because on the one hand he is a strong and dominant figure, while on the other hand he loses his power in front of Carmen. The photograph focuses on a Sudanese refugee from the Central Bus Station dressed in elegant purple clothing to create a contrast between elegance and vulnerability–characteristics that symbolize the contradictions in Carmen's character.
OPERART will be on temporary display at the Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art from November 2-12. It will then move to the lobby of the Israeli Opera House to accompany the remainder of the 2017/2018 Opera season. Catch a glimpse of this season's offerings.