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  • Talma Gotteiner

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem: 'Digging Down - Art of the Pre-Future'

Updated: Nov 1, 2021

Hi there,

‘Digging Down: Art of the Pre-Future’ is a group exhibition of 42 Israeli artists whose main subject is archaeology. The exhibition includes 90 works of contemporary Israeli art in a variety of forms: painting, sculpture, photography, video-art and sound. The works are on display in the galleries amongst the items exhibited in the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, intermingled with the historical flow of the permanent exhibition, enabling a dialogue between distant periods of time throughout the museum alongside an inter-generational conversation within Israeli art.

‘Digging Down’ in the exhibition’s title pertains to archaeologists as well as to artists and visitors. Whether directly or indirectly, the art works create an artificial archaeological mound, whose foundations date thousands of years ago but whose summit belongs to our own days.

WHEN: Opening on Tuesday, Nov 2, 2021 till April 2022

Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem: 'Digging Down - Art of the Pre-Future'
Credit: Miriam Gumpel, LoversKiss, 1965, Chamotte. Mishkan Museum of Art Ein Harod.

Curator: Shira Friedman

Participants: Uri Gershuni, Iris Sinatra, Ella Littwitz, Alima Rita and Menashe Kadishman, Elad Rosen, Assi Meshullam and Talia Yona Kliger, Ariel Hacohen, Gilad Efrat, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, Dganit Brest, David Adika, David Fine, Dina Shenhav, Vardi Bobrow; Zohar Gottesman, Hava Mehutan, Haimi Fenichel, Hen Shish, Tal Shochat, Jonathan Ofek, Jonathan Hirschfeld, Yechiel Shemi, Lihi Turjeman; Mark Yashaev, Michal Brauer, Maayan Elyakim, Meirav Kamal and Halil Balbin, Mordechai Gompel, Miryam Gompel; Moshe Shek, Sigalit Landau, Amos Kenan, Rudolf (Rudi) Lehmann, Ruthi Helbitz-Cohen, Ruth Patir, Shahar Marcus, Tomer Azulay, Tomer Sapir, Tamir Tzadok.

The exhibition includes well-known and cherished works of art, items created specially for the exhibition, and other new works. Among the items created specially for the exhibition are personal “worship stations” spread across the museum, by Assi Meshullam and Talia Yona Kliger, with sound works dedicated to the ancient gods; a work by Ruth Patir based on fertility figurines from the biblical kingdom of Judah; threshold carpets by Ella Littwitz referencing various archaeological sites in Israel, a large grotesque figure of the Egyptian god Bes by Vardi Bobrow, and a representation of the ancient Egyptian scene of the weighing of the heart by Tomer Azulay.

The works presented in the exhibition engage in an in-depth study of the relations between the archaeology of the Ancient Near East and the civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome, on the one hand, and contemporary Israel art, on the other. In what way do these two cultural fields echo one another? How does the relevance of the ancient artifacts change in the context of the contemporary art beside them, and vice versa? How does archaeology connect with art when both focus on reality and on myths? What is the political and real significance of art works dealing with archaeology?

The exhibition seeks to examine what motivates artists and the arts in the second decade of the twenty-first century to constantly look back, to deal with existing archaeological remains and to create imaginary artifacts. Undoubtedly, the role played by archaeological research in the Land of Israel – the center from which Judaism, Christianity and Islam emerged – and by the important discoveries made in this land, has effected and continues to effect the history of art in modern Israel. In addition, an important influence was exerted by the ‘Canaanite Art’ school, which is also represented in the exhibition. That school grew in the 1940s out of a desire to separate from the Jewish cultural tradition of the diaspora and to establish a Hebraic culture connected to the people who lived in the Land of Israel in ancient times, particularly the Canaanites.

Curator Shira Friedman notes: “It seems that the preoccupation with place and land, as revealed here both above and below the surface, is central to Israeli art. Yet, the artistic paths, thinking and experience, through which this topic is expressed, shift from time to time.”

“The exhibition ‘Digging Down’ is cumulative, imbuing the interrelations between archaeological items and the vistor’s conceptual consciousness with new meaning,” explains Yonit Kolb, the Director of the Bible Lands Museum. “When we visit an archaeological museum we tend to focus on the items on display in terms of a perspective of time and place that are not ours. The exhibition ‘Digging Down’ is an act of taking the dead out of their graves and placing the ancient artifacts alongside the works of modern art, which enables us to reexamine the ancient narrative. The works of art form a possible response to the artifacts on display, requiring the visitor to be alert and ready to interpret a new language in which the past and the present are under the same roof.


Tours and gallery talks will be held in the exhibition. Guided tours can be arranged.

Tickets are purchased through the museum’s English website.

Website members can get a discount code on my 'members only' page.

Bible Lands Museum, 21 Shmuel Stephen Wise St., Jerusalem. Free parking. Tel: 02-5611066

Opening hours: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 10:00 - 17:00; Wednesday 10:00 - 21:00; Friday and Saturday 10:00 - 14:00.



P.S. Subscribers also have 'members only' benefits. To subscribe.

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