The Jerusalem Biennale is being held this year for the fourth time and we have dedicated it For Heaven’s Sake! What does this mean? What is this Heaven, towards which we are exhorted to strive? Is it even possible?
Every two years, the Jerusalem Biennale facilitates an encounter in Jerusalem between the world of contemporary art and the world of Jewish content; between professional artists and curators from Israel and abroad; between past, present, and future; between tradition and innovation. This year, the Biennale again offers a platform for professional artists and curators who grapple with Jewish thought, tradition, and experiences in their work, and infuse them with something fresh and original.
Establishing the Biennale as a sustainable art institution in Jerusalem required intensive engagement with the “what” and the “how.” The 2019 Biennale theme allows us to stop and contemplate another, earlier question: “For what purpose?” What motivates artists to create? What drives us? One possible answer, found in Judaism and other traditions is “for Heaven's sake.” This answer is obviously not an explicit one, but merely a metaphor with a range of possible interpretations that span the heavens themselves.
The diverse exhibitions and art installations on show at the 2019 Jerusalem Biennale offer viewers the mere tip of the interpretative iceberg. The artworks are vehicles conveying the motive for action of humanity in general and of artists and creators in particular.
'Waterfall,' a video installation by Marina Abramovic in the historic YMCA indoor pool, as part of the 4th Jerusalem Biennale (Courtesy of the Marina Abramovic Archives and MONA)