On my return flight from Tel Aviv, a conversation got me thinking (me thinking: generally a dubious activity, cue red alert). The businessman next to me asked what I had been scribbling into my notebook, and I began chatting idly about my role as arts and literature editor of this wondrous paper. Ah, no room in his life for art, he shrugged, it’s a luxury you know. My eyes widened. The anonymous businessman’s remark had sowed some serious seeds of scepticism. Could art, in its totality, be so secluded? An hour or so after landing I did some self-indulgent investigating. On my travels I had encountered several seasoned characters, and now to these individuals I posed the question: what’s art to you? Happily, I read diverse but equally passionate responses; some gravitated towards photography, some to graffiti, music, poetry, even cooking. They all seemed to recognise and value the impact of art, in its various forms, on their lives. No, mr businessman, art is no inessential ‘luxury’ item. Across the world it is omnipresent, if in a multitude of guises – perhaps you just have to open your eyes a little wider.
Jake, student from Canberra.
On Music. I am an eighteen year-old Australian who has grown up in an ever-changing arena for art. Most important is the effect that music, as an art form, has had on me. Stimulation of the mind through monophonic and polyphonic sound is, for me, much more effective then visual artwork. I do feel that music is constrained to suit a particular market, which usually means it must have a common theme with much of the other music around. But, on the whole, it has been an effective means of communication for me and friends.
On Graffiti. While travelling through Israel and East Timor over the past two years I have seen a lot of graffiti. These were far more powerful then all the other artworks I have seen; the rest seem so contrived. To me, the separation wall in Bethlehem is a far more interesting art gallery than the French Louvre could ever be. While each artwork tells the story of the same struggle, it shows different stories amongst it. The wall itself stands as a frustrated act of defiance that reflects an international will of change and an inability to instigate it.
Tuval, chef from Pardes Hanna.
Art is like imagination: somewhere that nature (or God) won’t interfere. In a picture you can put black, white, Jewish, Muslim people together in peace. You can change the world into a happy and desirable place. It is probably a cliché but I think that the best art comes from people who are really in love and think that the world is pink. They have the best success. Love can make the best art, music, painting, and even cooking!
Mikayla, student from Melbourne.
I love photography best; in 2012 I studied this for a semester at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and absolutely adore the art form. The ability to capture emotions in momentary glimpses of life is incredible when executed correctly through photography. My favourite artist is Annie Leibovitz because of her theatrical yet, contrastingly, blunt and real subject matter which intrigues me.
Alon, poet and photographer from Jerusalem.
On His Poetry. I have had many people asking me what kind of writing I do – the truth is I have no idea! I’m not so into names and definitions; I just do things because of how they feel. I wish I could hand over a text of mine and ask you to tell me what kind of poetry I write, but I write in Hebrew! Rather I’ll just say that I write my feelings – not about my feelings, no, I actually write the feelings. I let those happy or sad or lonely or loving or empty feelings just flow directly into the words. Sometimes I will start trying to express a feeling but find myself writing about it or around it, then I already know that I missed the point and I put it away and wait for the real thing to come. My best text comes when I just find my fingers running across the letters not even letting my brain and thoughts come in between. The pen has been a close friend of mine for many years now and I think it started when I was about fifteen years old. At seventeen I made my parents buy me a typewriter, which came with me when I went for long years of my Jewish Torah studies in Yeshiva. Here I always made sure to find quiet solo moments to type in the text that I had scribbled by hand on some napkin. I don’t try to communicate any particular message through my poetry; it’s more something that I do for myself at that very moment. I leave it open enough for my readers to take it as they want.
On His Photography. When I first started taking photos it was mostly of scenery, flowers, animals, and so on. With time that became a little boring or empty for me; I found myself going more for something that involves people in some way. I mostly try to avoid clear faces, but certainly my later photos have been more around the human or human surroundings. I guess if I were to categorise my photography I would call it ‘street photography’. I don’t like setting things up for my photos; I prefer to stand in a hidden corner and capture things as they happen naturally. Lately I have begun focusing on photos that involve culture, religious, and political issues. I live in Jerusalem and I grew up as an Orthodox Jew, so my life is totally surrounded by many extremes and conflicts which I sometimes try to express in my photography. My pen and camera have witnessed some of the deepest, happiest, and saddest secret moments of my life, so I thank you two for that!