Israel Museum goes remote for exhibit at Ticho House

©The Jerusalem Post

ARTIST INBAL Hoffman talks about her installation-based offering ‘Mundane Heights.’ (photo credit: COURTESY ISRAEL MUSEUM)

Over the past eight months or so the virtual domain has increasingly become the only viable outlet for conveying the fruits of cultural endeavor to the public. That takes in festivals, shows and Zoom sessions of various types. But now the Israel Museum has taken the remote communication platform into previously uncharted realms. Last week the museum held the official opening of its new exhibition at Anna Ticho House when it unveiled Inbal Hoffman’s installation-based offering, Mundane Heights.
All the usual suspect ingredients were there for the enjoyment thereof. Israel Museum director Ido Bruno gave his opening address, talking about the importance of the zeitgeist-tailored Hoffman layout, and of the venue and, naturally, expressed his delight with the advent of the opening, against all the social-distancing odds. We also got to follow the work of the setup team, and gained a better handle on what makes Hoffman tick artistically, and how she conceived and implemented the idea for the exhibition in an elucidating tête-à-tête with curator Shua Ben Ari.
But, instead of talking to an actual visible audience, Bruno enlightened us from the comfort of a chair, in casual attire, as hundreds, possibly thousands, of culture consumers looked on from across the country and around the globe.
Somehow, the “impersonal” digital presentation fit the bill to a tee, in more than one sense. Mundane Heights is a self-explanatory-named affair and feeds off the artist’s personal feeling that, over the years, home maintenance has become an increasingly dominant component in her life. Like many a homemaker-mom, Hoffman has juggled her domestic role with doing her damnedest to keep her creative juices flowing, and give vent to her artistic drive. Naturally, those demands were exacerbated as the pandemic took hold.
Ben Ari says the opening was not only a professional dream come true, it also, finally, put Hoffman’s and her work out there, in – so to speak – tangible form. It was something of a stop start process. “The exhibition should have opened in May this year, but then the corona came along and the museum closed in March. I spoke to Inbal and we said we would wait and see.”
Hope sprung anew in the summer. “The museum reopened in August and we said we’d carry on with the work and aim for the [exhibition] opening in October,” Ben Ari adds. All looked to be promising, until a fresh wave of restrictions came into force. “The second lockdown began and we really didn’t know what was going to happen.”
But the powers that be were determined to get the show on the road. They took the wider picture approach. “The museum decided to hold the opening, despite the fact that no one would be able to see it [in person]. We don’t just live for openings. We also have a role to play in the cultural field in general. We want to maintain the work and, when we can, we’ll show the exhibition to the public.”
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For now, Ben Ari is just happy they got through the online event in one piece. “It was really weird doing it virtually,” she says. “We had a tough week beforehand, working long hours. We worked right up to the last moment. And then, at 4 p.m., we dressed up and got ready for the opening.”
And it wasn’t just a matter of slipping into presentation mode. “Both Inbal and I felt it was strange, and we were a bit wary of doing the Zoom session. I mean, you can’t really talk about art without people seeing it.” That isn’t entirely accurate as the video documentation does give us some inkling of what the exhibits look like and what Hoffman has put out in the gallery space.
So there we have it. Mundane Heights is also dressed up with, so to speak, nowhere to go. As Bruno put it so succinctly, “I very much hope that, in the near future, you will all be able to come here to see the exhibition with your own eyes.” Amen.
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