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Jerusalem Art Starts Here: Agripas 12

by Ziva August 19 2008
ArtThings to do
In order to really understand - and appreciate - Jerusalem's underground arts scene (read: all the Jerusalem art that's exciting and new), start with a trip to Agripas 12. Down a narrow alleyway and up on the second floor, nestled above the city center'Einat Arif, Self Portrait 2008s shopping streets and beneath the bustling shuk, you're as removed and hidden from Jerusalem commercial shopping as possible. As if only once you're away from it all, are you ready for the Agripas 12, true art experience.
 
Agripas 12 is a cooperative art gallery that was founded in 2004 by 15 independent Israeli artists - themselves renowned and accomplished graduates of such prestigious Jerusalem-based schools as Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Hadassah College and the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. The gallery is non-profit and not commercial in that all its exhibitions are collectively decided upon by the founding group who view the gallery space as an extension of the creative process: make art, show art, be art.
 
Agripas 12 is all about immediacy and accessibility to art. There are no agents, middlemen or commercial aims. Here, artists and visitors interact directly. Works of art either speak for themselves or get you talking, whether in the exhibition space or out on the streets of Jerusalem below. The gallery's goal is to break the traditional relationship between artists and artistic institutions. Leave all your artsy-fartsy pretentiousness at the door, because here no one is going to dictate Art (with a capital A). It's up to you to decide and draw your own conclusions about.
As one of the first cooperative artistic groups in Jerusalem, Agripas 12 has been paving the way for newer artistic collectives, such as Hagigit or Barbur, to take hold of Jerusalem's burgeoning cultural scene in different directions and media. Since its opening, Agripas 12 has hosted dozens of solo and group exhibitions, along with gallery talks, music performances and poetry readings. Exhibitions have featured works of the 15 founding artists, including married, accomplished photographers Einat Arif and Yossi Galanti.
Currently on view is First Chance - 1, an open call by Agripas 12 to artists across the country who have not held a solo exhibition. Close to 200 artists responded from various media, a reflection of the need and interest among young Israeli artists for exhibition spaces to showcase their works. Twenty artists were selected to participate in the exhibition which features photography, installation and video art, and painting. This is the first in what Agripas 12 hopes will be an annual art exhibition and event for young, independent artists in Israel.
The exhibition is scheduled to close on September 6th. But just before it does, Agripas 12 is hosting a lecture on September 4th comparing artwork on view in First Chance - 1 to the more "established" artwork currently on view in six exhibitions at leading Israeli museums that collectively paint a picture of Israeli art over its past six decades. A formative lecture that will certainly provide some perspective for new and up-and-coming artists in Israel - especially if they aspire to be as good, bad or just plain "interesting" as those deemed museum-worthy from Israel's past 60 years.

Above, Self Portrait by Einat Arif.
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