November 14, 2019

The Israel Museum Acquires “The Israel Trail Procession”

By Amy Powell

The Israel Trail Procession, a video work by Ayelet Carmi and Meirav Heiman, most recently shown at HBI’s Kniznick Gallery, was just acquired by The Israel Museum, a top tourist site in Jerusalem, attracting over 900,000 visitors per year. 

The work depicts more than 50 people in a procession over parts of the Israel Trail, but with one important caveat: no one is touching the ground. 

Aya Miron, curator of the The David Orgler Israeli Art Department of the Israel Museum, described the work as “a monumental video installation” that shows mostly women and children “connected to tools and apparatuses designed especially for this work, rendering the act of walking particularly challenging” and resembling a “peculiar carnival or ritual procession.”

The museum, one of encyclopedic content, acquired the work because they consider it important, especially to the sorts of issues and questions Israelis face today, Miron said.

It addresses questions of place, belonging, tribalism, and the refugee experience. These issues are central in today’s social, geo-political, and cultural discourse both in Israel and around the world,” Miron said. 

Carmi and Heiman’s exhibition One Foot Planted, featured video works The Israel Trail Procession, Sphere, and other work at HBI’s Kniznick Gallery between February and June. In their first American exhibition, the Brandeis community and public heard from the artists about the origins of their work as independent artists and then as collaborators. Carmi also spoke about her childhood on a kibbutz and some of the parades and festivals there as an influence on the work. 

Each year, HBI brings one show, through an open call, that highlights the mission of promoting fresh ideas about Jews and gender. For the last two exhibitions, HBI selected Israeli artists whose work was acquired by major art museums after the HBI exhibitions. Three pieces from last year’s exhibit, A Fringe of Her Own: A Collection of Ritual Objects for Women by artist Tamar Paley, were acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for their Judaica collection.

Susan Metrican, Rosalie and Jim Shane Curator of the Kniznick Gallery, said, “It is a tremendous honor and accomplishment for an artist to have work acquired by a major museum. We are beyond thrilled to have exhibited work by emerging artists that has gotten the attention of both the MFA and the Israel Museum. We’re also proud to have brought such incredible work to Brandeis and to the Boston community. These acquisitions certainly bolster the mission of HBI and the HBI Artist Program, and hopefully will bring more attention to the work taking place here.” 

Carmi and Heiman are thrilled to see their work get such a wide audience. 

“This work deals with a lot of Israeli politics. It’s not easy work and the Israel Museum and their curator felt that it was important work to put into the collection. It’s a privilege to us,”  Carmi said. 

“Sometimes movement becomes so difficult. We are talking about the problematic aspects of living in Israel and dealing with Israel. Walking the land is supposed to be the easiest thing to do — you put one foot in front of another. We chose something so symbolic, the Israel Trail, from one side of Israel to another — something that is so epic — and we show how difficult it is to walk.”

Miron said The Israel Trail Procession “creates a thought-provoking connection between the Israel Trail and the Israel Museum. They both blend history and culture in both general and contemporary contexts. The Israel Trail is connected to many other hiking routes, just as the Israel Museum offers endless and varied paths of exploration throughout its encyclopedic campus.”

Carmi noted that the artwork gives a struggle to each person depicted and asks the important questions, “What will we do for this land? What is worth doing for this land? ”

Amy Powell is assistant director of HBI.

 

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