The Third Mediterranean Biennaleby Alison Roberts | 19.06.17
Politics cannot always overcome borders, but every so often, art can. For the past two years, The Mediterranean Biennale has established itself as the most unlikely, contradictory and perhaps necessary art event in the Middle East. The third edition, titled Out of Place, breaks from the reflective nature assumed by today’s high profile art events, asserting art’s role in driving change.
Diverting from Israel’s westward focus, the Biennale looks to its neighbors, local Israeli and Palestinian talent, as well as established international artists to exhibit throughout the Galilee region.
Showcasing works from countries such as Iran, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Lebanon, the Biennale establishes an exchange of culture within an otherwise political vacuum. An aesthetic dialogue, Out of Place diminishes the separation between art and daily life, structuring an exchange of experience between communities in conflict. Organized by The Arab Museum Of Contemporary Art (AMOCA), the Biennale abandons traditional structures of exhibition, choosing localities such as mosques and schools as preferred venues of display.
With no entrance fee, and works showcased throughout the public sphere, curators and directors Belu-Simion Fainaru and Avital Bar-shay have addressed questions of accessibility, working closely with community leaders to understand the Biennale’s local impact.
Contextualized by an inescapable political landscape, the Biennale provides a space outside traditional political forums for community interaction. Placing works of Israeli-Jewish artists in Arab-Israeli towns, and the works of Arab-Israeli artists in Israeli-Jewish towns, art transforms into a vehicle of communication, while the Biennale’s geographic structure facilitates physical interaction between the Galilee’s diverse communities.
Lacking diplomatic ties to the majority of countries in the Middle East, Out of Place provides a platform for artists throughout the MENA region to exhibit in Israel. Against all odds, the venture has been met with numerous success despite logistical challenges. For example, a majority of the artwork must be flown from the Middle East to Europe, before it is able to enter Israel.
Since its founding, the Biennale has gained support from communities, artists and institutions throughout the Middle East. Even in the most unlikely places, such as the Kingdom of Bahrain, whose art community has embraced the event (a banner for the Biennale can be featured prominently on the homepage of ArtBahrain.org).
Belu-Simion Fainaru, Image courtesy of the Biennale.
Olivia Mihaltianu, Image courtesy of the Biennale.
A microcosm of the world, Out of Place has brought 60 artists from over 25 countries to the Galilee. Exhibiting notable international artists such as Elmgreen & Dragset, Damien Hirst, and Pipilotti Rist, Out of Place challenges our perception of the periphery, presenting the world to the Galil, and showcasing local Palestinian/Israeli talent to the world.
The Mediterranean Biennale runs from June 29th through December 16th, 2017. For more information, please visit the Biennale’s Website and Facebook Page.