Tel Aviv Artists Reclaim a City Under Quarantine


When the coronavirus arrived in Tel Aviv, sending everyone to shelter at home, curator Dafna Kron went outside to look for pandemic-related art on the empty streets of the city.

“Everything went virtual,” said Kron. “But whenever I was outside, I was looking for artistic signs that would offer some comfort. All I could find were the handwritten signs on the front doors of shops and cafes that were like love letters to their customers.”

In response Kron, created “Exit Strategies,” a citywide interdisciplinary exhibit of installations, video art, sound and light works, created by 40 artists; it ran for two days last week.

The works varied widely. A light installation by Daniel Landau was placed on one of Tel Aviv’s best-known cultural institutions, the shuttered Habima Theater.

Four artists, Yossi Mar Chaim, Shimon Levi, Yuval Maskin and Nomi Yoeli, performed a ceremony, “Older People with Underlying Conditions,” to banish the pandemic in Ginat Duvnov. Video art by Shahar Kramer took over the dark screens in the empty Tel Aviv Cinematheque square.

There was an online musical session online from Zeev Tane and the “I’ve Had Enough” band, as well as a rowboat on the Yarkon River for couples who survived the coronavirus together. Cartoonist Ilana Zafran made chalk drawings of animals all along Haim and Elisha Warburg streets.

The initiative was created with backing from the municipality and the Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts, which wanted to support its community of artists. Some 400 artists joined an initial Zoom meeting, and 300 submitted ideas, said Kron.

“I told them that we need to reclaim the public sphere,” said Kron. “As artists, we don’t have to wait for someone to allow us to act.”

The Times of Israel