Staring Back at the Sun: Introduction by Yael Reinharz

Everything Artis does – from research trips to grants to public programs – is about supporting artists in innovative, meaningful, and essential ways.

It was with that spirit in mind that on one of our semi-annual research trips to Israel in October 2013, a conversation started sparked by the questions: why is video art from Israel so strong today, and who were the forebears to the artists who are actively working today? What were they up to beginning in the 70s and leading to today? How did film and video from Israel correspond to contemporary international developments?

As we discussed what we did and did not know about these interrelated questions, the idea formed that Artis should seek to uncover the answers and share them with the public. We found a remarkable lack of research about the early history of video art from Israel, with the exception of work by Ilana Tenenbaum. We also discovered that no one had comprehensively surveyed or contextualized the history of video art from Israel from the 70s onward in one program.

So, it had to happen..and with a wonderful grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and in early partnership with Director Chris Bedford, formerly the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University, we invited curators Ilana Tenenbaum, Sergio Edelsztein, Avi Feldman and artist Yael Bartana to curate four one-hour long chronological sections of Staring Back at the Sun suited to their areas of expertise. All works had to be single channel so that the program could easily travel and screen as a program if desired.

We’re excited by the potential of these 35 works by 39 artists to reach people all over the world and to stimulate important conversations about the role art can play in political and social developments. Staring Back will tour internationally for two years in the format of a screening program or exhibition – see below for the evolving schedule. This mini-site will have video interviews with artists, many of them from the older generation whose work you will see in today’s program. We will have essays posted about each of the sections of this program.

I want to thank all of the participating artists and their estates, our tireless staff, our outstanding supporters The Andy Warhol Foundation, The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, The Russell Berrie Foundation, Donald Sussman, Rivka Saker and Uzi Zucker, and to our very supportive Board of Directors.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Yael Reinharz
Executive Director