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The Musrara School of Art is a unique institution; a visit to exhibitions of 2016 graduates


The Musrara School of Art was founded in 1986. Located in the heart of a neighbourhood straddling East- and West Jerusalem and representative of the city’s multi-culturalism, the Musrara-Naggar School of Art is spread over two locations – a historic, 19th century Arab building and Canada House - the neighbourhood community centre. The school’s five departments – Photography, New Media, New Music, Visual Communication and Phototherapy – encourage alternative creativity in an atmosphere of collaboration between the teachers and the some-150 students.  Strongly committed to involvement with Musrara residents and the community in general, the school operates educational projects for prisoners, special needs children and high school students; it also holds Jewish-Arab seminars. One of the school’s many projects is “Forty-Something” – a program offering people with full-time jobs the opportunity to study twice weekly for two years, with participants combining studies in still photography and video, computer programming and more.


At the conclusion of three years’ study at the Musrara School of Art, students exhibit their work in the various rooms of the school. On July 18th 2016, Motti Cohen, the school’s director of Extramural Studies and Educational Programs, showed a small group of journalists through some of the many exhibitions of this year’s graduating students. What became clear from the outset was that all the exhibits combined different media and techniques. The eloquent, interactive exhibit of Daniel Bassin, a graduate of the New Media Department, combines photography, video and a sound-sensitive dimension. Bassin is interested in the poetic dimension of public spaces and in the potential of technology when used to serve as an artistic tool. Entering the space housing Omri Daniel’s disquieting interactive installation, one is surrounded by a number of fans loudly blowing volumes of cold air to operate the visuals on screens, these being faces of dead people – some familiar public figures - returning to life. Vasily Parshin’s detailed, copious photo project focuses on a paranoid woman who photographs people she believes to be following her. Parshin’s exhibit, raising questions in the viewer’s mind, is the result of his following her through the streets in the town where she lives and even observing her in her apartment by means of a hidden camera.


Sarah Yassin’s photographic exhibit “Three Houses, Four Walls” documents  three houses with which she is familiar: the first is a house in the northern town of Arabe, where she was born and grew up, the second is her grandmother’s house in the same location and the third, the house on the Mount of Olives where she lodged during the three years in which she was a student at the Musrara School of Art. In touching honesty, the pictures convey Yassin’s different sentiments to each house and to the austere authenticity and tradition of the simple dwellings.


Of the “Forty Something” students, there were a number of exhibits: Shai Knaani’s confrontational exhibit consists of large, somewhat disturbing “trance” photos of himself taken in the home setting, in some of which he is bandaged, suggesting suffering or age-related aspects. Tali Romem’s delicate and subtle prints, inspired by what she observes near her home in Jerusalem, focus on nature and the seasons. Iris Chetritt’s artistic statement, expressed in a variety of techniques, is indeed seen through the eyes of a woman, with works dealing with personal change and sometimes influenced by her work as a hairdresser.  Coming closer to a huge chandelier hanging low enough for the viewer to scrutinize, one perceives that Chetritt has assembled it from numerous synthetic disposable gloves, of the kind worn by hairdressers when dyeing hair!  In the entrance hall of the main building, we viewed the work of Jerusalem photographer Meir Reuven Zalevsky. Focusing on the subjects of time and the Jewish Sabbath, his exhibit presented several pictures of the Sabbath table and traditions; especially interesting is his video film showing a Jerusalem street in gradual change on a Friday afternoon as the residents and  time dimension slowly move into the Sabbath.


In an experimental and analytical study stream loop, Celli Lichman, a graduate of the Department of New Music, presented a video-sound project showing him singing in a spontaneous manner, with the addition of other sound layers of mostly vocal sounds.







Photo: Tali Romem