When strolling along Haifa's Louis Promenade, one cannot help but look out at the brilliant green aura emanating from the carefully maintained Baha'i gardens and imagine the Garden of Eden. What the Edenic scene lacked, however, was the strong, feminine presence of Eve...until now. The Mané-Katz Museum's newest fixture "Chana Orloff: Feminist Sculpture in Israel" completes the puzzle as it pays homage to women through a deep examination of the female body.
For centuries, feminists have made great strides to change negative attitudes toward the female body–throwing conventional gender division of public and private spaces out the window. At the center of the exhibition, which explores the historical relationship of the female body, are the works of Chana Orloff.
The young Ukraine modernist was among the first artists to use the female figure as her subject in the early 20th century. She rejected the tradition female role and painted portraits of independent women she believed to be role models instead, sculpting dozens of nude females in all shapes and forms, including: prominent Biblical heroines, dancers, pregnant women, pioneers, and mothers.
Orloff's works do not shy away from blemishes and imperfections; they capture an element of realness in the female form, much like the other contemporary female Israeli artists who contribute to the exhibit. Noa Arad-Yairi, Sharon Balaban, Ronit Baranga, Meira Grossinger, Meirav Heiman, and other participating artists grant legitimacy to the "unusual" and "irrational" as they defy years of gender discrimination. Through complex artistic practices, the women examine "the physical, political, and psychological place of femininity."
A key factor in the quaint space is Tali Navon's video piece, which strips away the universal ideas of motherhood and discusses maternal femininity in its raw form. In-Between ties the late Orloff to 21st century discourse on motherhood and a woman's right to choose.
Finally, as the museum is named after Mané-Katz, "Chana Orloff: Feminist Sculpture in Israel" includes a selection of Katz's early works in which he took a cubist approach to the female nude body, dismantling and reassembling the form in a geometrical manner.
Whether you are a woman, feminist man, or simply a curious passerby looking for shaded refuge from the brutal Haifa heat, a beautiful world–a female world–awaits you inside this quaint gem of a museum.
Exhibition lasts until February 18, 2018. Mané-Katz Museum, 89 Yafe Nof Street, Haifa (04-9119372)