Threads – Cluster of Exhibitions

The current cluster of exhibitions focuses on tapestries and embroidery. The exhibition “Weavers of Dreams” celebrates the 100 birthday anniversary of Itche Mambush. Alongside this historical exhibition, a selection of exhibitions of contemporary artists is on display, artists that choose to work with a thread and needle, in weaving, embroidery and needlework. They give new and actual interpretations to the old medium.

All the wall tapestries in the exhibition are the product of ongoing cooperation between Marcel Janco and Itche Mambush, beginning in the 1950s. Janco came upon an abandoned Arab village on Mount Carmel and dreamed of rebuilding the ruins and establishing an artists’ village there. In seeking help to realize this vision, he thought of Itche Mambush, his student at the Studia art school, whom he remembered as a very talented go-getter. Janco asked Mambush together with his wife, Aviva Margalit Mambush, to help him realize his dream.

Janco’s dream was to follow the model of the artist-artisan by combining fine art with crafts. In the village he set up a series of workshops. Toward the end of the 1950s and the early 1960s, Itche Mambush and his wife, Aviva, set up “Margalit Ein Hod”, a center for craftsmanship and art adjacent to their home, where they produced ceramic pieces, tapestries and prints.

Itche and Aviva Mambush established their weaving workshop in 1966. The spacious weaving enterprise they set up overlooking the Crusader ruins in Atlit contained 15 looms. Professor Moshe Lazar wrote: “The orient and textile art, the middle ages and tapestries are intricately interwoven in our cultural memory. Mambush could not have chosen a better site on which to initiate an Israeli renaissance of tapestry weaving… when Aviva and Itzhak Mambush decided to establish a tapestry workshop at Ein Hod, the threads between the West and the East were reconnected.” Most of Janco’s tapestries were woven based on his original oil paintings, which were translated into wall tapestries by sketches that Janco and Mambush worked on together. Even after fifty years, the vivid color of these tapestries is still apparent. Janco chose works with abstract compositions that were filled with movement and touched upon landscapes and nature, music and dance. The transition from painting to weaving often generated new works, some deriving from the limitations of weaving and others emerging from the attempt to produce a new, three-dimensional creation.

Exhibition curator: Shulamit Weinstein Israel

The exhibition Heroines without Titles focuses on Nava Harel-Shoshani’s work in tribute to Marcel Janco as an artist who responds to social and political events in his environment. In particular it is a gesture to Marcel Janco’s transit camp paintings from the 1950s. As an artist, Harel-Shoshani is also an activist who responds to what happens around her and protests social and political injustices. Harel-Shoshani’s current work focuses on images of exceptional and courageous women, both well-known and anonymous, who confront conflicts and challenges and fight against local or universal oppression.  She sees the journey of these heroic women as more complex than that of men, due to the barriers human society places before women. The works in this exhibition are divided into three different media: treated photographs, slingshots and masks. In all of them the artist uses textiles and embroidered decorations. The exhibition Curator is Rina Genussov.

Maria Arendt is an artist who lived and worked in Moscow. She was on a trip outside Russia when the war with Ukraine broke out, and overnight her life was turned upside down. She moved in with her sister in London and has not returned to Moscow, where her son and ailing father remain. She has unwillingly become a refugee living in exile. This exhibition is part of Maria Arendt’s “Inside Out” series of works, which are based on still images from films made in the 1950s and 1960s. The Soviet utopias depicted here are in some sense an escape from reality. Arendt now observes the stories in these films abstractly, seeing them through different eyes than when she was in Russia, such that their Soviet aesthetics resembles the vanguard of a contemporary ideology that is very conservative and built on resentment. Many people in Russia and the CIS countries were nostalgic for the Soviet period and lived mostly in the past. This nostalgia clashed with reality and turned into tragic events that brought about a humanitarian and economic crisis and produced millions of refugees. Regrettably, Soviet culture became a powerful propaganda tool that has played no small part in the current situation. The exhibition Curator is Naomi Gordon-Chen.

In the exhibition Defloration, adapted to fit the library space, the artist Revital Arbel displays “Tapestries” that were created by hand embossed medical seals once used to signify the location of pathological findings and by embroidery on photographs taken by the artist. The series of photographs also depicts processes and images from the world of medicine: a placenta, a fetus in the womb, and a belly showing a surgical scar concealed by a tattoo. These photographs are difficult to view, and the artist has used embroidery to embellish them by adding capillaries, emphasizing internal organs, and attempting to intervene in medical procedures. Revital Arbel has also built a special installation for the library space. In this installation she uses a sterile robe and sterile sheet from the operating room and attaches embroidered photographs to them. The installation represents an artistic attempt to introduce the spirit of the operating room into the library museum space. The exhibition curator is Raya Zommer-tal.

4 New wall works:

Braah Abed Elqader exhibits her site-specific installation “Grace” Within a narrow and covered space, she has placed fifteen images of human organs, embroidered with white thread on black cloth. These white organ images emerging from the darkness are fragmented and obscure. In addition to the partial fragment of an organ, each frame contains a connected artery, capillary or vein. Thus the artist stresses that each organ is merely part of the human body as a whole and all the organs are interconnected. The point of departure for the artist’s installation is the beginning of human life, expressed in the encounter between sperm and egg. From there the artist embroiders other essential bodily organs, including the lungs, the heart, the brain, the joints, the liver, the placenta and more. Her choice of the technique of embroidery, which entails a slow process of adding one stitch after another to create the embroidered image, symbolizes the process by which one cell is added to another to create the living organ. Rina Genussov is the Exhibition Curator.

Yael Friedman created the wall installation “Corner of Golda and Rothschild Boulevard” to fit the space between the two stories of the museum. This fabricated title refers to a contemporary and symbolic Tel Aviv space, which she designed using bags from the Golda Ice Cream Flavor Boutique. The color of the bags is a blend of gold, silver and copper, lending them an ostensibly prestigious appearance. The heart of the visual space is a large, rectangular, embossed tapestry sewn as a single piece. The tapestry is decorated with urban images and scenes that depict the ambivalent relations between human beings and their surroundings. Close to this tapestry and adjacent to the banister of the museum staircase is a pair of three-dimensional dogs showing their backsides to those descending the stairs. As a contemporary jewelry maker, Friedman designed the images on the wall tapestry – a car, a building, a cat, an insect, garbage and more – using simple, delicate and accurate sewing. The images are symmetrically arranged around a round sewer cover, an aesthetic form used in classical tapestry design. Avital Katz is the Exhibition Curator.

Tamara Turgeman’s work “When We Come into the Land” comprises a poetic biblical text woven into a frame. The work is made of porcelain tiles onto which the artis imprinted embroidered letters, spelling out a verse from the book of Joshua (Joshua 2:18). This verse describes what the spies Joshua sent to explore the land said when they came upon the house of Rahab. In exchange for hiding them from the King of Jericho, the spies promised to save Rahab’s life and the lives of her family members when the people of Israel came to conquer the city. The scarlet thread that Rahab affixed to her window was to serve as a sign that would differentiate her from the other inhabitants of the city. The scarlet thread can be compared to the umbilical cord Rahab used to “deliver” and save the spies who escaped through her window. The use of the red woolen thread reflects the custom that has become popular in recent years of tying a red thread around the wrist as an amulet to ward off the evil eye, even though the holy writings make no mention of this. Rina Genussov is the Exhibition Curator.

Andy Ceausu Digital Display “Face of the Rock” is based on photographs of rocks taken by the artist, primarily in the Borgarvirki region of northeastern Iceland, where nature is incessantly and vigorously alive. Elements of nature and climate have left their mark, creating rare pictures on the surface of the rocks. The wind and the water have shaped the faces of the volcanic rocks, while lichen and moss have added new colors and contours. With time the rock has taken on its own personality. The artist reveals the “drawings” that are “imprinted” on the rock. Using digital means he embroiders and exposes new images that emerge from their abstract form, changing from mere patches of color to images depicting characters and animals. The result is a series of naïve tapestries spiced with humor. Raya Zommer-Tal is the Exhibition Curator.

Avital Baron Izackov exhibit her installation: Sharing a self Portrait no.2. A Collaborative installation

Daniela Lerer’s two-part exhibition examines the concepts of “House” and “Home”. Lerer, who lives on Marcel Janco Street in Tel Aviv, set out to examine and learn about the life of this artist. She discovered that Janco was an architect by profession and built more than forty structures in Romania during the 1920s and 1930s. This discovery led her to create the “House” series comprising ten small and colorful Gobelin embroidery in which the artist engages in a humoristic dialogue with Marcel Janco. The second part of the exhibition examines the notion of “Home”. It includes a wall painting that suggests the hallways and rooms of an apartment. Hanging inside of these is a series of Gobelin embroidery focusing on what goes on in the home space. Exhibition curator: Raya Zommer-Tal.

Adva Kremer displays the series “Absent Beauty” as part of the project titled “The Museum of Empiric Values”. The exhibition features textile fabrics into which the artist has woven familiar portraits of women from the history of art using an advanced high-tech technology she developed during her studies in the Department of Textile Design at Shenkar College. Using this technology she assesses the popularity of these figures by collecting and analyzing Google Trends data on the figure or topic of interest. The results accurately reflect the degree of network exposure of the figure, with the resolution changing according to the degree of spectator interest. This method combines textile, art and advanced technology, thus generating a powerful assessment of perceptions of body image, the ideal of beauty, exclusion and discrimination.

During this period in which discourse on the topic of violence against women is thriving, this pixelized representation of women as indistinct, black and concealed figures examines destructive and racist stereotypes of women in Western society, both of women in general and of Black women in particular.

Exhibition curator: Nitsan Shuval Abiri

Vered Pirchi Linenberg’s exhibition “Prayer” inthe museum library features a series of the artist’s work from the past five years, primarily paintings on carpets. Linenberg draws connections between the personal, intimate domestic space, as represented by woven carpets featuring decorative-geometric symbols, and the public space. She creates expressive paintings using acrylics on carpets, most of which she found discarded next to garbage cans on the streets of the Hadar neighborhood in Haifa. Using intense strokes of a paintbrush full of paint on the textured surface of the carpet’s fibers, strokes that do not cover the original design of the carpets, Pirchi Linenberg generates an inner artistic tension and an inner cultural tension between the materialism of the work and the new topics of the paintings. A bridge is built, layer by layer, between different times and creative methods, thus transforming the carpet from a decorative object to an artistic creation.

Exhibition curator: Izi Itzhak Civre