PARIS – Amid the flow of cultural events offered throughout the year in the French capital, residents and tourists are especially fond of the annual Paris White Night Rendezvous festival in October offering a variety of alternative music performances, video projections and artistic installations.
The invitation to the many Israeli artists was extended in the framework of the Israel-France cross-cultural season, launched on June 1 by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his visit to France, and which lasts until the end of November.
Over the last few months, Israeli artists have performed in Lyon, Toulouse, Marseilles and other cities alongside events dedicated to Israeli innovation and technology. On Monday, Nice will host a celebration of Israel’s 70 years of humanitarian aid and international cooperation, with diplomat Peleg Lewi representing the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
The Israeli curator of the Israel-France season Emmanuel Halperin reached out to numerous Israeli artists and French associations, encouraging partnership for joint projects. One of these French associations was the Néo Muralis artistic group, which came together on the backdrop of the cross-cultural season. Néo Muralis invited Israeli artists PESH, Nitzan Mintz and Dede for the Toulouse Mister Freeze street-art festival, and on Saturday hosted urban artists PESH and Pilpeled for the White Night happening in Paris. Eric Oxandaburu, project manager at The Next Moment association and one of Néo Muralis initiators, explained the two artists’s work being held in Paris’s 4th arrondissement. ‘’The idea is to create a kaleidoscope of artists, for us to rediscover the public space through their own eyes.’’
Lior Bentov (aka PESH) is an active member of the alternative Israeli street art scene; his works explore the area between the figurative and the abstract, with special attention to geometric shapes, textures and colors. He has already exhibited in several venues abroad, but this is his first time in Paris. ‘’I have brought with me some of the paintings, but there are also large-size paintings that I created here, in Paris, this week. The larger artworks, a triangle of painted cardboards, are displayed outside, in the courtyard of this magnificent building, for the visitors to experience them the way you experience wall paintings. Together with Pilpeled, we also conducted a workshop with children, which was a lot of fun; not just for them, but also for us,’’ he told The Jerusalem Post.
Pilpeled too brought several canvases and wall sculptures, but also created some work while in Paris for the event. ‘’You can see here this truck which I painted in black and white, featuring my two cats. It’s a tradition here, to paint this truck which will later circulate across the city.’’
The evening at the Bellevilloise was organized by Teder – a group of Israeli musicians operating a radio station and a performance hall in Tel Aviv. Irai Rai of Teder told the Post that the owners of the club arrived in Israel several months ago, and offered them to organize the evening from A to Z.
“Ten years ago, few people in clubs like this one in Paris knew about the Tel Aviv music scene, but things have changed. We have lately organized performances in Tokyo and in Moscow. People there know about our music and our music bands, and reaching out to us.” Rai said.
Israeli visual artist and writer Keren Cytter was invited for the White Night by the Museum for Jewish History and Arts and Culture (MAHJ) in the historic Jewish Marais neighborhood. Cytter, now based in New York City, creates films, video installations, drawings and children’s books. One of the MAHJ curators, Fanny Schulmann, told the Post that the museum offered Cytter a free hand for the event, which takes place in different spaces of the historic building. Cytter decided to create a marathon festival involving a series of dance performances, talks and movie screening by artists from around the globe.
“I found out over the years that I should not limit myself to just filming or writing. On the contrary. It is when I take in everything that I create the most. I don’t like to be categorized. Art should be fun. It works only if you do what you like to do. Recently I created several festivals in Europe, like in Bologna in Italy, where the festival was dedicated to alternative spaces. Here as well, it’s an intensive experience for the visitors.”
One of the guests Cytter invited to perform in her festival was her Berlin-based friend Israeli Dafna Maimon. Maimon staged four French women volunteers dancing a choreography entitled “Eat All You Can.” The performance related to childhood memories around food and women. Her dancers moved in a vaulted-ceiling space around two round tables in circular paths, in a story-telling framework that was both funny and nostalgic and intriguing. and quintessentially Israeli.
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