Israeli art scene online with Omanoot.com launch – resource alert

CONTEMPORARY VIDEO ART FILM THE INTERNET

Israeli-American Edoe Cohen has founded a new art website called Omanoot.com, made live in January this year. Currently featuring an array of Israeli-produced art videos and films, the commercial website will include work by the region’s visual artists soon. Below, Cohen shares his thoughts on the Israeli cultural scene today.

Screenshot of Omanoot homepage. Israeli feature film 'Beaufort' can be seen. Image from omanoot.com.

Screenshot of Omanoot homepage. Israeli feature film 'Beaufort' can be seen. Image from omanoot.com.

Omanoot.com (which means “art” in Hebrew) showcases sections for different forms and media of art that include film, literature, music, and the visual arts. It is currently spearheaded by the video work done by a number of Israeli filmmakers; the site showcases 50 documentaries and short films as well as trailers from Israeli feature films.

Cohen describes Israel’s film and video work as “strong and cutting edge.” The country is technologically advanced and, with the success of innovative and high-tech companies supporting the economy, local artists have started to experiment with the different methods and techniques of film-making and video work.

Contemporary and emerging art is a presence that resounds loudly in the consciousness of younger generations in Israel. The art scene has started to flourish and has instigated the desire to connect outwardly around the globe. There is also a palpable urge to connect with each other within the nation, on a level that attributes itself not to politics but culture. Cohen elaborates,

“People who come to Israel are not falling in love with the politics. They’re falling in love with the culture, with the people, with the landscape. And that energy comes across through arts, through Israeli music, which is very avant-garde, through film, through the visual arts and definitely through the literature. That’s our idea: take that energy and bring it to the world.

Sigalit Landau, 'DeadSee', 2005, video (color, silent), from 'Cycle Spun' (2007). Image from moma.org.

Sigalit Landau, 'DeadSee', 2005, video (color, silent), from 'Cycle Spun' (2007). Image from moma.org.

Omanoot’s so-far-successful decision to launch with film leads to the question of whether other mediums of art will be able to push forward the country’s presence in the global art market. While Israeli film and digital artwork have garnered recognition around the world, noted artist Sigalit Landau and designer Ron Arad will be representing the country in the 2011 Venice Biennale, an article from Forbes.com says that Israeli artists “have made no real inroads in the global market: of the top 500 artists sold at auctions from 2009-2010, not a single one hailed from Israel.”

But it seems things may be changing. According to this year’s Artprice report breakdown, Israeli painters Tal R and Adi Rosenblum have broken into the top 500 at numbers 132 and 428 respectively. With Bonham’s recently launching Israeli modern and contemporary auctions and Sotheby’s setting up an office in Israel, it cannot be denied that there is a prominent growing interest in the country’s creative and artistic offerings.

Gallery view of Ron Arad's exhibition "Restless" (2010), Barbican Centre Art Gallery. Image from ronarad.co.uk.

Gallery view of Ron Arad's exhibition "Restless" (2010), Barbican Centre Art Gallery. Image from ronarad.co.uk.

Art Radar got in touch with Omanoot to ask about the current state of Israel’s contemporary art scene. This is what Cohen, along with the visual arts consultant and Blog Editor of Omanoot, Holly Woodhouse, had to say:

Israeli art started out as part of the Zionist enterprise, promoting and helping to define Israel’s national identity and the makeup of the newly born nation-state. The artists, many European-born, looked to the West for their artistic influence, while incorporating local motifs and messages. Today, Israeli art is as dynamic, diverse, complex as the country itself. It is no longer the vehicle or tool of the state, but is often very critical of the state and introspective. The art scene is very experimental and innovative in terms of mediums used, techniques, and content.

They continue:

The Israeli art scene is trying to open up – through art festivals and larger exhibits and shows – to the general public. Although you still have a market driven primarily by private collectors, the scene is no longer restricted to a closed elite clique; what we believe to be the sign of a healthy art environment.

While Omanoot.com is a commercial venture supported by advertising, it sponsors Omanoot.org, its teaching and curriculum arm. Jewish day schools and Hebrew schools in the US are using the lesson plans, as well as Jerusalem’s Ma’aleh Film School.

ZD/KN/HH

Related Topics: art and the Internetdigital art, video art, Israeli artists

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