America-Israel relations explored in unique exhibition opening on November 3

Jerusalem, October 16, 2013 – The Israel Museum announces the presentation of the exhibition Aircraft Carrier: American Ideas and Israeli Architectures, originally organized for the Israeli pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia in 2012. This inventive exhibition explores the dramatic changes in Israeli architecture beginning in 1973, focusing on the influence of the United States. It takes its name from the famous line by Alexander Haig, US Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, who stated that "Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk." Five leading Israeli and international artists and architectural photographers – Assaf Evron, Fernando Guerra, Florian Holzherr, Nira Pereg, and Jan Tichy – were invited to reflect upon the major architectural phenomena that demonstrate the dramatic shift of Israel from a socialist welfare state into a booming free market. In addition to the works of architectural photography, sculpture, and installation, Aircraft Carrier includes thirty unique, whimsical merchandise objects, each one representing a key event in US-Israel relations, created in collaboration with product designer Tal Erez.

The eventful year of 1973 was a critical turning point for Israel’s social, economic, and political structures, as well as American strategic interest in the Middle East, with the surge of global capitalism in the background. Together, these elements radically transformed Israeli architecture. Rather than viewing the history of Israeli architecture as a succession of exemplary projects, Aircraft Carrier focuses on clusters of associations, influences, and innovations that can be considered as defining phenomena in the field. Four of these phenomena identified in this exhibition are: “Signals” – attempts by private companies and individuals to proclaim their social and political power through the building of projects; “Emporiums” – the rapid transformation of the Israeli socioeconomic model from socialist austerity to hyper-consumerism; “Allies” – collaborations between the State and the private sector working together in the promotion of national goals; and “Flotillas” – the segregation of space into distinct environments with parallel architectures, built for different sub-societies. The combination of these phenomena exposes Israel as a place of paradox in which the operations of free markets rely on State mechanisms. The built environments that emerged from these contradictions reflect the strange but solid embedding of liberal and capitalist principles in the foundation of a country that was known as a socialist welfare state.

The exhibition is introduced by a "store," in which visitors are invited to buy custom-made merchandise items designed by Tal Erez especially for the project. Each one of the items represents a key event in the history of US-Israel relations and includes: bobbing head dolls of the Camp David trio Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter, and Anwar Sadat; "neo-liberal" alms boxes featuring Uncle Sam; "send a settlement" postcards; black fist stress balls in the spirit of the Israeli Black Panther movement of the 1970s; and "sweet 16" M-16 chocolate bars in commemoration of the massive weapon airlift that saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

Aircraft Carrier is on view from November 3, 2013 to January 4, 2014, and is curated by guest curators Erez Ella, Milana Gitzin-Adiram, and Dan Handel, who created the exhibition for the Biennale.

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the leading art and archaeology museums in the world. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections ranging from prehistory through contemporary art and includes the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world, among them the Dead Sea Scrolls. In just under 50 years, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects through an unparalleled legacy of gifts and support from its circle of patrons worldwide. In 2010, the Museum completed a comprehensive renewal of its campus led by James Carpenter Design Associates, New York, and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects, Tel Aviv, including the creation of new galleries, orientation facilities, and public spaces, and the complete reinstallation of its encyclopedic collections. The Museum also organizes and presents programming at its off-site locations in Jerusalem at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, where it presents archaeological artifacts from the Land of Israel, and at its historic Ticho House in downtown Jerusalem, a venue for exhibitions of contemporary Israeli art.