Lee-More Kohen is a leading producer and curator in Israel’s art scene. For her upcoming worldwide tour of Young Israeli Art she is working with 280 participating artists. This huge exhibition of Israeli Art is taking place in Munich – as the first city for this worldwide tour – from 11th-15th september 2014 in Munich. Sabrina Möller talked to Lee-More Kohen about the art scene in Israel, the current situation and what to expect …
Your upcoming exhibition „ART WORKS – young israeli artworks on world tour“ in Munich is starting at a time, when the conflict in Israel seems to reach the highest point. How do you deal with that?
The idea for the exhibition began more than two years ago. It sprang out of my activity in the art field in the last 15 years. The complicated political situation is part of our everyday reality as a people in this region. In this point of time, when it seems that the conflict has increased, we contemplated the effects the conflict would have on this exhibition. After consulting with many participating artists and much consideration I decided to continue with the exhibition with optimism, sanity and hope.
The “artworks” exhibition is apolitical. However, it carries with it a message of a different path of co-existence and communication in a universal language, the language of art. The exhibition represents a different face of Israel which may oppose to what people are used to seeing in the media.
Could you please explain the aim of this exhibition?
The aim of this exhibition is to introduce the richness of the young Israeli art world to the international community. We have decided to exhibit in Munich as the first city in our worldwide tour.
With 1.000 artworks and 280 participating artists it will be one of the biggest exhibitions of israeli art in the german speaking area. Please tell us more about your process in choosing these artworks and about your criteria.
In this exhibition, I wish to allow a broad common denominator of Israeli art and dwell less on local hierarchies and cataloging artists by the institution they attended. The comprehensive exhibition represents many diverse faces of Israeli art without entering the local politics of the art field. Most of the artists that present their works I know personally. During the choosing period I visited each artist’s studio and chose the works by myself and with the help of my team.
Was there a main influence to you concerning your decision to make this event?
My main influence comes from working many years with artists and collectors, as a curator and producer in the “Israeli Aids Task Force” – the largest donation exhibition in Israel. Every year this philanthropic exhibition takes place in cooperation with Bank Ha’Poalim under the auspices of Shari Arison. These exhibitions are well received worldwide and create a joyful experience for the public. There sprung the idea to copy this format to a wider international scale.
How difficult is it to work as an artist in Israel?
Israel is a small country that cannot support the amount of artistic talent available. Therefore, it is almost impossible for artists to make a living from their art and unfortunately many of them are forced to find other work. My vision is to change this situation and to help the artists to live off their talent and abilities.
Could you evaluate the role of israeli art within the worldwide art market?
In the last few years there is a meaningful presence of Israeli art in the world. Many Israeli artists, exhibit and make it independently or through galleries into the center of the international art scene.The Israeli booths in the art fairs around the world, such as the Venice Biennale, draw much attention and receive much interest.
To name a few recognizable Israeli artists: Michal Rovner, whose video installations have been exhibited in the most important museums around the world. Nir Hod, whose work inspects clichés of emotion and aesthetics and are receiving international acknowledgment and commercial success. Sigalit Landau, who represented Israel at the Venice Biennale and who deals with narratives and myths of the Israeli community in her strong emotional and allegorical installations. Adi Nes, whose staged photographs touch various aspects of the Israeli public with references to biblical stories.
What are your expectations for the „ART WORKS“ and for israeli art within the next years?
I hope for a successful exhibition with a meaningful dialogue and a better understanding of this region through art. I also hope that Israeli art will be acknowledged and more accessible. I‘d like for this exhibition to continue through many years to come.
Interview by Sabrina Möller
YOUNG ISRAELI ART – worldwide tour
11th – 15th September 2014 / Munich – Praterinsel