Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 02:09
Christopher Bedford, new director of the Rose Art Museum, greets Provost Steve Goldstein '78.
Dor Guez stops to speak with a museum visitor about his art in the exhibit.
Students, faculty, administrators and community members filled the galleries of the Rose Art Museum for the premiere of Dor Guez’s solo exhibition “100 Steps to the Mediterranean” last Thursday. The exhibit, a combination of photography and videography, was Guez’s first major exhibition in the United States and his largest exhibition to date. According to Prof. Gannit Ankori (FA), a co-curator of the exhibit, over 600 people attended the opening.
Guez, an Israeli with both Palestinian Christian and Tunisian Jewish heritage, focused on the question of contemporary Israeli identity in the exhibit. The artwork, which is on display in the Lois Foster Gallery of the Rose, was varied in its content. Guez took home videos of his family members where he interviewed them about their experiences with race in Israel and projected the videos on gallery walls for the exhibit. In one of the videos, Guez interviewed his cousin Samira, who described her experiences with racism in Israel.
“What does it mean to feel Israeli?” Samira asks, continuing, “What does it mean to feel Arab?”
Still photos from Guez’s “Lydd Ruins” series held an eerie glow along the wall with stark contrasts between luminous images of fire and backgrounds of dark sky. Another photograph, titled “Two Palestinian Riders,” hung bright and vividly, displaying blurred horses running through a dense forest. Many of the works attracted crowds of viewers who stopped to understand and ponder Guez’s message of identity in Israeli society. Guez was present for the opening of the exhibit, fielding questions from inquisitive viewers.
The exhibit was co curated by Dabney Hailey, director of academic programs at the Rose, and Ankori, a scholar of Israeli and Palestinian art. Both individuals spoke very positively of the experience; Hailey exclaiming that she was “thrilled” to work with Ankori and Ankori calling the partnership a “fruitful and seamless collaboration.”
Guez was first introduced to the Rose Art Museum during a visit to Brandeis in June 2011, explained Ankori in an email to the Justice. The Schusterman Center for Israel Studies had convened an artists’ panel on multicultural Israeli art in which Guez participated. During that visit, Ankori brought the artist panelists to the Rose, where the Rose staff were first introduced to Guez and became interested in his work. Once the Rose decided to feature his work in a solo exhibit, it took about a year to develop, Ankori noted.
Both Hailey and Ankori were thrilled with the large student attendance at the exhibit.
“There are so many students,” remarked Hailey at the exhibit. “The most important audience is the students.”
“I was especially moved by our students’ responses and their deep and insightful understanding of the installation,” Ankori agreed.
Students also had positive reactions to the exhibit.“I like the exhibit,” said Alexandra Patch ’14. “I like the contrasts between bright colors on top of pale pictures in the ‘Lydd Ruins.’”
“It seems pretty cool,” commented Rachel Rothfeld ’13. “I like the videos. It’s an interesting look into the lives of Christian Arabs living in Israel and the struggles that they deal with.”
During the exhibit, Christopher Bedford, the new Henry and Lois Foster Director of the Rose Art Museum, was formally introduced to the Brandeis community by Provost Steve Goldstein ’78, who praised Bedford’s experience and enthusiasm for the position. Bedford stated that he was looking forward to being integrated into the campus and strengthening the alliance between the University and the Rose.
Ankori expressed satisfaction with the final presentation. “One of my colleagues said that it is rare that contemporary art is both accessible and complex; both visceral and cerebral,” she said in reference to Guez’s artwork. “I thought that remark was incredibly accurate.”