04 August 2008

National Renewal

My photograph at the opening season of the Israel Baseball League where my son Ari was pitcher and coach for the Petach Tikvah Pioneers. Ari is currently Director of the Israel Action Center in Boston.

Zionist Miracle
As an artist living in Israel, I am enthralled by the awesome creative opportunities I have as an active player in realizing the amazing Zionist miracle, the national liberation of the Jewish people. The great biblical miracle of liberating one nation of thousands from enslavement in the one country of Egypt after 210 years of exile pales in comparison with the Zionist miracle in our time of liberating millions of Jews from persecution, pogroms, and Holocaust in scores of countries after 2000 years of exile and bringing them home to Israel.
Root and Branches
The ingathering of the Jewish people into their ancestral homeland of Israel at the time that many other peoples are being dispersed into new host countries would seem to be a countertrend to the powerful forces of globalization. However, the rebirth of the Jewish State and the ingathering of the exiles plant roots that provide the sure footing required to play the fast-moving globalization game. Sixty years after its rebirth, Israel has emerged as a major player in the global world of hi-tech.
Art and National Renewal
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, a down-to-earth mystic who served as Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel, wrote a letter of congratulations on the founding of the Betzalel Art School in Jerusalem in 1906. By way of allegory, he refers to the revival of Jewish art and aesthetics after two thousand years of exile as a child in a coma who awakes calling for her doll.
"The pleasant and beloved child, the delightful daughter, after a long and forlorn illness, with a face as pallid as plaster, bluish lips, fever burning like a fiery furnace, and convulsive shaking and trembling, behold! She has opened her eyes and her tightly sealed lips, her little hands move with renewed life, her thin pure fingers wander hither and thither, seeking their purpose; her lips move and almost revert to their normal color, and as if through a medium a voice is heard: “Mother, Mother, the doll, give me the doll, the dear doll, which I have not seen for so long.” A voice of mirth and a voice of gladness, all are joyous, the father, the mother, the brothers and sisters, even the elderly man and woman who, because of their many years, have forgotten their children’s games."
Rabbi Kook saw artists at work as a clear sign of the rebirth of the Jewish people in its homeland. Their playful spirit nurturing sensitivity for beauty “will uplift depressed souls, giving them a clear and illuminating view of the beauty of life, nature, and work.”
Excerpt from the book by Mel Alexenberg, The Future of Art in a Digital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press).
Local Action and Global Outreach
As a Zionist artist working at the intersections of art, science, technology, and culture, I create artworks that combine pride in my Jewish roots with an overview of a networked world. I explore the creative tension and energetic interplay between narrow unidirectional thought and open-ended systems thought, between spiritual and material realms, between traditional values and scientific and technological development, between subjugation and freedom, between war and peace, between hatred and brotherhood, between local action and global outreach, and between being rooted in one’s own culture and exploring others. This tension and interplay is the stimulus and raw material for creating art to revitalize Jewish culture while offering fresh directions for the growth of art globally.
Posted by Mel Alexenberg at 9:59 AM 0 comments

No comments: