When Art meets History

Writen by: Neta Yaron

The first exhibition held at the Tower of David took place in April of 1921 at the initiative of the “Society for Jerusalem,” a company under the auspices of the British government that was established to protect the cultural assets of Jerusalem and to improve the life of the city’s residents. The exhibition featured hundreds of works of local and foreign artists alike. In both its scope and its prestige, the exhibition towered over any other event in the land and became one of the symbols of the rejuvenation of the Jewish people in its homeland.

Since then, hundreds of art exhibitions have been held at the Tower of David that address the unique glory of the place and that combine the glory of the ancient citadel and the history hidden among its stones with a contemporary presentation of artistic and cultural topics. Every few months, the citadel has a new look and showcases diverse, innovative, and fascinating art.

Two of the most interesting exhibitions featured in the museum this year have quite different purposes. Yet, both demonstrate the connection of the Tower of David to art and artists in Jerusalem.

The 2017 Jerusalem Biennale Exhibitions at the Tower of David (Through November 16th)

These very days, the Tower of David Museum is hosting, for the second time, exhibitions of the Biennale, which are held throughout the ancient citadel, exhibitions which the Tower of David Museum was a partner in creating and establishing. The Biennale, whose theme this year is “Watershed,” addresses the many meanings of the term watershed. The whole essence of the Tower of David represents the watershed of Jerusalem. All of the historical periods of the city are represented by the monumental architecture of the ancient citadel and the Tower of David presents the story of Jerusalem, which branches out to all of the communities of the city, with their different faiths. Here at the Tower of David is the watershed between the old city of Jerusalem and the new city of Jerusalem and between the treasures of the past and the generations of the future.

Two new exhibitions are currently featured at the museum as part of the Jerusalem Biennale:

“The Space Within” – A Photography Exhibition of the Artist Lili Almog (Curator: Eilat Lieber)

In the Drawing Room series, the models were photographed in a studio of an art academy and in the artist’s workroom. A look at the photographs of the series reveals mobile and integrated elements and the interior spaces in Almog’s photographs become conceptual spaces that enable the observation of women both as subjects and as creators of art.

Lili Almog, Drawing Room, The Biennale at the Tower of David, 2017

Lili Almog, Seasons, The Biennale at the Tower of David, 2017


“Alternative Topographies” – An Art Installation of the Artist Avner Sher (Curator: Dr. Smadar Sheffi)

The tension between the eternal and the transient is one of the characteristics of metaphysical and tangible Jerusalem. In the 950 Square Meters – Alternative Topographies exhibition, Sher researches, examines, and observes the complexities that are derived from this tension.

The relationships between destruction and rebuilding and processes of extinction and preservation have been at the heart of Sher’s works over the years. In recent years, Sher has focused on the Old City of Jerusalem, which is less than one square kilometer (just approximately 950 square meters) and which houses holy sites of the three monotheistic religions.

For thousands of years, nations, kingdoms, and religions have fought and struggled for control of this crowded and small territory. At the Tower of David, a museum dedicated to the history of the city and located in a historic structure whose foundations date to the Herodian period, the Maps of Jerusalem and Spolia series are loaded with new significances and make reference to the frequent change and constant development in the city.

The exhibition begins with hints located in the stunning inner courtyards of the tower. Part of the exhibition is presented on the graduated terraces that look out onto the city. In this way, graduated and layered levels of significance are created that lead to the terraces, to the meeting point with the view of Jerusalem that can be seen from the museum.

אבנר שר, טופוגרפיות, הבניאלה במגדל דוד, 2017

אבנר שר, טופוגרפיות, הבניאלה במגדל דוד, 2017


This is the third consecutive year in which art students have taken over the citadel for one night and transformed its walls into a canvas, its passageways into a dance stage, its roofs into a studio, and its rooms into gallery halls, creating a complete celebration of art and history, old and new, solidarity and colorfulness, and thoughts and philosophies about the stones, the works, the art, and Jerusalem.

Shira Vitaly, the Curator of Nylon, states:

The exhibition is a multi-disciplinary exhibition which gathered together students from all of the higher schools of art and design in the city and was based primarily on existing works of the artists. They all came to a location and were part of the thought process. The challenge was to adapt correct locations. Some of the students changed their works especially for the exhibition space that was chosen and some created entirely new works for the new location.

Among the criteria for the selection of the works was the level of ripeness of the artists, their ability to create significant expression through different artistic languages. This included a high level of responsibility and an ability to maneuver the production of the display of the work in the framework of the non-standard conditions and exhibition space that the citadel provides.

When we asked Shira if there is a specific work she likes the most she responded that one doesn’t ask a mother which of her children she loves the most 😉


ישנו אור שלא נכבה هناك ضوء لا ينطفئ  There Is A Light Which Never Goes Off

One of the works that attracted our attention was the work of Kamar Badran, a visually-impaired student. Kamar’s exhibition was presented on the roof of the citadel and, using a drawing technique, featured a female image in black masking tape on the wall. From the image’s eyes descended a chain of blue Christmas lights, which flowed like a river to an adjacent cavity. Next to the female image was a sentence in Arabic brail writing, whose symbols were made from hair from the artist’s head, stating that there is a light that is never extinguished. This imagery was accompanied by a work of sound comprised of a mixture of a music box, recordings of wind, breathing, crying-laughter, and a dialogue between two women. The image expressed difficult feelings of fear of death, which Kamar suffers from, and hinted to the existence of a super-natural metaphysical world of spirits, creatures, or aliens.


Kamar shares:

The sentence “there is a light that is never extinguished” is made from real hair of mine that I gathered over the past few years after every shower. I use hair as a type of special material. It is seductive and fascinating when it is a woman’s hair and from the moment it is separated from the body it becomes “repulsive…hair interests me because the interaction with hair is complex…like my everyday difficulty with the visual impairment…the eye display accentuates my seeing problem…this eye that cries tears of light, like holy tears, as opposed to the wires of Christmas that symbolize happiness.”

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