The Arty Semite

Meet the Brain Behind the Jerusalem Biennale

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

“This is the first major event I have ever produced,” said Ram Ozeri about the Jerusalem Biennale, taking place in Israel’s capital until October 31. “Well, the first major event other than my wedding,” he quipped.

‘My Daughter’ by Neta Elkayam and Michael Elkayam. Photo by Amit Shai Cohen.

All joking aside, it was no easy task to put together six simultaneous exhibitions of contemporary Jewish art in the Holy City. Having decided three years ago to study art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, after completing an MA in economics, the 33-year-old Ozeri was looking for a way to bring together his two major interests. Then, he got the idea for a Jerusalem biennale when he visited the Berlin Biennale in 2010.

“I kept the idea on a low fire, and then I started working seriously on it beginning last November. The past few months, the work became very intensive,” Ozeri explained in a phone interview with The Arty Semite.

Ozeri put together a team of curators from various disciplines including design, photography, installation art, fine arts, dance, and music. The goal was to represent all of these, but to also make certain that different Jewish streams, backgrounds and approaches would be included.

Rather than issuing an open call, the curators reached out to their circles and invited artists to participate. More than 50 artists, mainly from Israel but also some from other countries, are participating in the six exhibitions being held at five different locations around Jerusalem.

“It was not an easy task to bring all the curators together at the same table,” Ozeri said. “There were points at which some of them almost quit the project due to creative differences and religious sensitivities.” The issue of nudity caused tension between secular and religious curators. “On one hand, we cannot censor curators, but we also need to understand the sensitivities involved,” Ozeri said. “Fortunately, in the end, the curator who wanted to include nudity backed down.”

Ultimately, there is something by and for everybody. For instance, the “My Soul Thirsts” exhibition at the Wolfson Museum of Jewish Art at Hechal Shlomo features work by ultra-Orthodox artists; “Thread of Gold” at Beit AVI CHAI is a show exploring Jewish-Moroccan identity by father-daughter team Michael and Neta Elkayam; and the photos of Tel Aviv-based, secular photojournalist Ziv Koren can be viewed at The First Station, Jerusalem’s newly renovated old train station.

“We are trying to show different Jewish expressions, different points of view,” Ozeri explained. “But what we hope people will take away from seeing all these different shows is an understanding of the common ground among all these points of view.”

The producer deflects any concern that the Jerusalem Biennale comes on the heels of a busy summer of arts and culture in Jerusalem, which included The Jerusalem Film Festival and the Jerusalem Season of Culture. “What the Biennale offers is variety — six exhibitions happening simultaneously. You can jump from one location to another, and it’s a world of Jewish content,” Ozeri asserted.

“Jerusalem has never had such an event,” he continued. “The timing is actually excellent, with so many Israelis coming to Jerusalem for Sukkot, and all the Jewish and non-Jewish tourists who come to Jerusalem this time of year. We are expecting new crowds, not just the usual fans of contemporary art.”

Ozeri, a lifelong Jerusalemite, is proud to be bringing the first biennale to his city. He had more to say about this, but he had to cut the conversation short — he was off to another one of the biennale’s many opening events.

Watch a video about the Jerusalem Biennale:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Renee Ghert-Zand, Jerusalem Biennale, Ram Ozeri, Exhibits, Art

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.