Beyond The Conflict: Showing The Face Of Israeli Art

By Hanna Szekeres February 11, 2011 Comments

Living in a country fraught with political conflicts, art is sometimes the only means to cross boundaries, says Edoe Cohen, founder of web portal Omanoot.com.

Omanoot – art in Hebrew – is a website dedicated to highlighting and teaching Israeli art to a wider audience. Cohen came up with the idea around the time of the second intifada, when he felt not only an increasingly hostile attitude towards Israel, but also a distancing from Israel’s bustling art scene.

Then studying at Columbia University in the US, Cohen brought Israeli music, films, and artists to the campus “to show another, quite beautiful side of Israel.” Omanoot grew out from that initiative.

“Omanoot.com shows that you can believe in Israel without having to do political PR,” said Cohen.

The website is divided into two parts, the art content and educational platform. The art section will soon showcase Israeli music, literature and visual arts. It already includes 50 documentary and short films that can be viewed free of charge. The site will also include articles about various Israeli artists and their works, written by Omanoot’s team of 15 volunteers.

Omanoot’s educational platform is a cooperation between the site and educators from around the country to create lesson plans that can be used in classrooms and camps. It will supply information around different artists and artworks.

While the site’s educational platform will be funded by private donors, the art content will be supported through advertisements and online art sales.

Cohen emphasized the art is not only Jewish: It includes works by artists from all walks of life in Israeli society. “This variety should be celebrated,” Cohen told NoCamels.

“All people see are the newspaper headlines, but there is much more behind it, and we wish to show that through people’s personal narratives. Even if an artist is very critical of Israel, it’s fine. We believe in a democracy that should stomach that kind of critique. The artists who are critical, they are still celebrated by the state. And that’s amazing,” Cohen added.

Photo by qthomasbower

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