The Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design 2023

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Hannah Rothschild – Biennale 2023/Photo: Avi Amsalem

The Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design will open at MUZA, Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, on March 31, 2023. The theme of the second biennale is “What is the Measure of Man?” and will explore the human condition on the threshold of a new age, featuring works by Israeli and international artists and designers. Ami Katz, CEO of the Museum, released a statement: “The second biennale is of extraordinary scope and depth, and it is even more important than the first biennale in which we demonstrated our ability and positioned the Museum as one of the three most important museums in Israel. It is more important because it is bigger, more comprehensive and more relevant. It is more important because this time we are giving a platform to artists and designers from abroad.”

Bubu Ogisi – Biennale 2023/Photo: Roni Knaani

The Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts and Design is a natural extension of the ongoing focus of MUZA, Eretz Israel Museum, on local material culture. This year, for the first time in the spirit of the Biennale’s worldwide theme, are presented along with the works of about 250 top-class Israeli artists and artists, art and design works by international artists whose works respond to ancient cultures and traditions are displayed. The biennale, which spans most of the museum’s exhibition spaces, combines contemporary “craft” works with archaeological and ethnographic treasures from the museum’s collection. The Biennale presents an up-to-date picture of the fields of contemporary arts and design in Israel – ceramics, glass, goldsmiths, textiles and paper – and shows them when they are combined with each other. The museum’s outdoor spaces will feature outdoor works including installations, sculptures, and architectural structures.

Ozymandias, 2023, Sasha Serber – Biennale 2023/Photo: Avi Amsalem

The theme of the second biennale, curated by Henrietta Eliezer Brunner, Nir Harmet and Tomer Sapir, is “What is the measure of man?” This theme is based on a saying of the Greek philosopher Protagoras, born in the 5th century BC, who stated that “man is the measure of all things.” Under this title, the biennale seeks to examine the extent of the influence of creative man and his actions on the world around him, as well as on his inner world. The need and urgency to respond to the winds of change and the reality that is changing at an accelerated rate, raise questions about the role of the work. It examines and redefines the scope of action and the ability inherent in it to offer a balm in our search for a sustaining world and a humane future.

In the biennale, different perspectives are presented about the question, what is the measure of man? And in the spirit of the ancient philosophers, miniature worlds are created throughout the museum – in the gallery of the Rothschild Center there is a world that tells a story in four chapters inside a “white cube”; In the permanent pavilions: ceramics, copper, glass, the “Center of Adam” and his labor and domes that create dialogues that transcend time, space and countries.

The outdoor works and the body of works in the tower gallery present living environments, works that touch on research, science, nature and biodiversity, works that change over time and those that deal with sound, light and movement. During the biennale period, three academic incubators of leading design institutions in Israel will be hosted in the Migdal Gallery, one after the other. The participants of the incubators will present unique projects inspired by the theme of the biennale, with a research, dynamic and boundary-pushing approach.

For the first time, the biennale also presents several dozen contemporary craft and design works from around the world selected by Dr. Kevin Murray, an international guest curator. The works create dialogues with the local works, past and present. “The heart and essence of the biennale is craft and design the contemporary in Israel,” says Dr. Debby Hershman, director of the biennial and one of its founders: “However, in a globalized world, Israeli creators maintain a dialogue with the world, are influenced by it, and influence it. Likewise, the Muza Biennale aims to recognize and create a dialogue with the international community of creators, with an emphasis on artists who create like us inspired by an ancient cultural tradition in an innovative and changing world.”

The curators of the exhibition write: “We stand at a shaky crossroads. We seek refuge, look at the blue sky full of clouds and savor the moment. It is a pleasure mixed with sadness and worry, since the sky may change. The sky above future generations will not necessarily be blue, it may be cloudy, and things that until today were taken for granted are no more. This is a moment of nostalgia for the present: We embrace the present and prepare for the future that awaits us with its complex challenges, in all aspects of our existence.”

The Tel Aviv Biennale of Crafts & Design will open on March 31, 2023 and remain open through November 2023.

*Information and texts are from a press release by MUZA, lightly edited.