Beyond No-Man's Land: Journey Across a Landscape of Identities

Naggar School of Photography, Musrara, Jerusalem. Alumni Exhibit

October 31 - December 20, 2013 Back to Exhibitions

Asaf Elboher,  Edison Cinema , 2007
Inkjet print
47.25 x 31 inches
80 x 120 cm
Edition of 5
Asaf Elboher, Edison Cinema, 2007
Inkjet print
47.25 x 31 inches
80 x 120 cm
Edition of 5

Press Release

Beyond No-Man's Land: Journey Across a Landscape of Identities

Naggar School of Photography, Musrara, Jerusalem. Alumni Exhibit

October 31 - December 20, 2013
Gallery Talks:
Friday November 1, 1 pm: Nevet Itzhak
Tuesday November 19, 4 pm: Andres Serrano
Saturday December 14, 1 pm: Jan Tichy

Artists: Alon Cohen-Lifshitz, Asaf Elboher, Dafna Grossman, Dan Galssar, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, Guy Yitzhaki, Hagar Avida, Haleli Mazor, Jan Tichy, Nevet Yitzhak, Or Tesema Avraham, Shuvalov Nadia, Snir Kazir, Tamar Tzohar, Yael Brandt.

Andrea Meislin Gallery is pleased to present Musrara - Beyond a No Man’s Land: Journey Across A Landscape of Identities, a group exhibition featuring Alumni from the Naggar School of Photography, located in the neighborhood of Musrara, on the seam line between East and West Jerusalem. The Musrara neighborhood is a microcosm of Israeli society, dealing with cultural, political and existential issues, and a plethora of identities.

Since it’s establishment, the Naggar School has initiated artistic projects with a high sensitivity and commitment to social and multicultural issues. This approach stems from "the place", the sensitive environment where the school is situated and where it first started to redefine the relationship between social and artistic activities, with a strong emphasis on a discourse between the different populations in the area. The school’s ideology is that art and artists have the power to generate a significant social change, bridge gaps and empower the disempowered. The Musrara neighborhood, which was a very poor neighborhood, turned over the years into an international center for social art, thanks to the artistic and social activities of the school and its graduates. It is now a platform for collaboration between local and international artists (The school galleries have hosted photographers Nicholas Nixon, Emmt Gowin, Arthur Tress, Danny Lyon, Linda Connor, the Starn twins, Thomas Ruff, Arnold Newman and many others), a platform that brings together the local and global, the political and the cosmopolitan.

This exhibition presents the work of 15 graduates, showing new works alongside projects initiated by the school to promote social collaboration and raise attention to the human environment around the school.

Included in this exhibition is the Black Panthers project, a historical documentary project started by the Naggar School in 1997. Even then it was clear that the school bonded itself to the local history of the neighborhood and to the social, political and cultural history of Israel.

Although originally built by upper class Arab residents from the old city, Musrara turned into a dangerous borderline neighborhood after the war . Formed by a group of young Jews who lived in Musrara, The Israeli Black Panthers movement, grew out of a protest in 1971 against the poverty and neglect in the neighborhood, the discrimination of Jews who immigrated from North Africa and were forcefully placed in Musrara. The movement was influenced by similar groups from all over the world including the 1960s Civil Rights movement in USA and the student protests in France.

The “Black Panthers” was the first authentic protest movement in Israel that raised public attention to issues of housing, work, education and poverty - a predicament that evolved from discrimination and lack of institutional awareness to the cultural values of Jewish immigrants from Arab countries. The protest included demonstrations, road blocks, breaking into shops and giving away food - actions that resonated in Israel and abroad.

The Naggar School’s “Black Panthers” project aimed to historically reconstruct the events through documentary photographs that tapped into the very essence of life in those years. Students and teachers researched the history of their neighborhood by reading, compiling photographs and other archival materials, and rephotographing the members of the movement. The project resulted in an extensive exhibition that included historical materials, contemporary portraits and a book that summarized the history of events. A working method was created by this project, dedicated to place and to society, paving a road from the past to the present of young artists who arrived in Musrara and consciously absorbed the experience of collaborative social activity, fulfilling the potential of the encounter between artist and society.

This course-changing project led the school to important insights and prolific activity. For example, it led to the establishment of an international art festival, Musrara Mix, which is a platform for art, presented all around the neighborhood and in residents’ homes. Living rooms turned into galleries, family albums were opened to the public, video and performance pieces were shown in backyards, including musical acts and collaborations between various artists from different fields. The Musrara festival has recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, grounding the character of the school as a center for social activities in the cultural sphere. The Social Gallery was established for exhibitions dealing with social issues in Israel, through the point of view of photographers who document life and its social complexity.

As part of the educational mission of the Naggar School, new study programs were initiated: Photography workshops for children and youth with special needs, integration of an Arab youngster in the various School activities, the establishment of the first Photo therapy program in the world, and a Jewish-Arab seminar dealing with the ongoing conflict through various artistic activities based on documentary methods. Recently an artists' greenhouse for social change was established - a post graduate study program that explores contemporary social changes through the documentary and activist aspects of photography, video and writing.

Musrara - Beyond a No Man’s Land displays the multiple strata accumulated in the school's philosophy and praxis over the years - always observing their immediate surroundings and scrutinizing the social and demographic changes taking place. The artists presented are alumni from different years, most of them recognized in Israel and abroad, who are familiar with the process of social and creative research. Together they spell out the school's spirit, a social establishment that works in the multicultural sphere of Jerusalem and Israeli society. The works on view are a cognitive portrait of the school. They show it for what it is - a unique school, specializing in the social aspects of the arts.

About the school:
The Musrara School was established in 1987. It is a graduate and post graduate school for interdisciplinary art, qualifying students for professional and artistic activities with a commitment to the community and social activism, based on the values of the state of Israel, and on Jerusalem as a multiple identity basis for authentic and experimental creativity.
The school has 160 students in the various departments. The staff is comprised of academics, interdisciplinary artists and social activists, amongst which are school graduates.
The school operates 6 departments of a 3 year trajectory: Photography, New Media, New Music, Visual Communication, the department of Phototherapy and the postgraduate art studies. From the beginning of next year there will also be a postgraduate music program.
Apart from the educational core activity, the school also runs other activities: the "special photography" unit and the external studies unit that consist of 200 extra students; 3 art galleries in the neighborhood and the international Musrara Mix festival. These initiatives attract an audience of over 15,000 visitors a year.
The school, its founder and director received the Enrique Kavlin life achievement award from the Israel museum in 2011 for their contribution to photography in Israel and Jerusalem, the Martha Prize for Tolerance and Democratic Values in Jerusalem from the Jerusalem foundation, and the Teddy Kollek award for public excellence. In 2012 the school was chosen by the ministry of foreign affairs to represent Israel in the international biennial for photography in Amsterdam. In 2010 the school launched the “Musrara Collection” project, for which it was awarded the Zionist creation award from the Israeli ministry of culture.

Social manifesto:
The school is located in the heart of the Musrara neighborhood - a microcosm and a symbol of Israeli society, a picturesque neighborhood with a history of social protest, the birthplace of the "Black Panthers" movement, a borderline neighborhood both geographically and demographically, a cultural and social meeting point. The school draws its identity from this source, and lays out an infrastructure for collaboration and mutual influence between artists and art students, neighborhood residents and the public. All of these factors join in a human encounter and visual research that manifests itself in dozens of local and international projects. The school activities in the neighborhood of Musrara resonate throughout Israel and serve as a role model for various establishments to follow.