Jerusalem Design Week, 2018, Bridges Historical Architecture and Environmental Topics
Between June 7th and 14th, 2018, Jerusalem Design Week, the seventh yearly highlight on the local cultural circuit, takes place at the Hansen House, as it primary venue, while extending to satellite locations, sporting international presence and featuring nature’s conservation as its overarching theme.
A Blog Article by Pablo Markin.
This week-long event explores the social, environmental and cultural aspects of design, as it straddles the former leprosy hospital built in the mid-19th century, which currently hosts cultural events and art exhibitions as the Ottoman-style Hansen House, the Bezek Building, the lobby and outer façade of Jerusalem Theatre and the outlying Alliance House. Anat Safran, artistic director of the Jerusalem Design Week, and Tal Erez, its chief curator, have managed to cluster the contributions from over 150 designers from Israel and around the world around the topics of the Garden, Library and Market as both conceptual and spatial focal points in what amounts to a maze of open-air, in-between and air-conditioned locations in which performances, projections, installations and exhibitions have been staged.
This event manages to raise questions related to environmental protection, conservation practices and their cultural representation via team and individual projects involving Israeli designers and their international counterparts, such as Liat Segal’s “Plate Recorder” project that combines audio recording and ceramic materials, to explore the boundaries between retro and experimental media. As part of this event, the France-Israel Season of Culture will include French-Israeli encounters across the domains of arts, design and cuisine, to probe into the meanings and implications of this event’s thematic foci. For instance, the architects and designers Guy Mishaly and Guy Konigstein have explored the cultural symbolism and aesthetic possibilities of libraries in relation granaries and their preservation practices.
This is echoed by the innovative, but somewhat nostalgic site-specific installations by the Polish design studio Syphon, the designer Zespol Wespol and the team Traffic in the Bezeq building, formerly used by the national phone company of Israel. In important ways, this event thus reaches out across not only geographic boundaries but also across domains of activity that have design relevance to house student exhibitions, artisanal-academic collaborations and interdisciplinary screenings, such as those organized in collaboration with the Milano Design Film Festival.
This event, therefore, opens up its spaces as much for aesthetic contemplation as for engagement, discourse and experience, such as the lectures and workshops hosted by Galit Gaon from the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design that, among other topics, probed the issues of memory, forgetting and reflection. Likewise, one of the highlights of this event was the demonstration of traditional food preservation techniques via fish tasting, culinary performances and salt installations that Michal Evyatar and Carmel Bar have staged in the backyard of the Hansen House.
Facing the front entrance of the Jerusalem Theatre, the Israeli design studio Magenta have combined video projections, earphone-based sound art and ping-pong equipment to create a hybrid space of dynamic experience that evokes seashore practices, has DJ-ed soundtracks in the background and affords a moment of rest for the visitors to this celebration of design. This is part of the reasons for which Jerusalem-related heritage preservation and development agencies have picked this off-center location, as it explores the relations between historical memory and design as a representational practice, such as the show by Pro Jerusalem Society concerned with the preservation of urban memory over the last century.
This event also addressed the presence of the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem via a group exhibition “Haredy-made” as the meeting of tradition and modernity has prompted an anthropological examination of everyday life. Likewise, Paris Design Forum has been present at this event via performances and talks dealing with various dimensions of Jerusalem’s history, cuisine, and culture. By contrast, the main exhibition of this event titled the “Human Conservation Project” drew attention to the social construction of the practices and categories through which the human existence becomes structured and transformed over time.
As a non-commercial event, Jerusalem Design Week has received culture-related funding from the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, the Jerusalem Development Authority and Ran Wolf Urban Planning and Project Management, Ltd., in 2018, which has enabled this interdisciplinary dialogue between local and globally positioned designers and environmental concerns.
By Pablo Markin
Featured Image Credits: The 2018 Jerusalem Design Week, Jerusalem, Israel, June 7-14, 2018 | © Courtesy of Dor Kedmi.