Port Towns as a Space of Change and Immigration: Acre, Haifa, Jaffa | Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem

Port Towns as a Space of Change and Immigration: Acre, Haifa, Jaffa

Total Hours
Semester A
Course Day
Time 10:30 - 14:00

The course will focus on port towns as a test case of mixed cities in the 20th and 21st centuries. The critique of space is based on interdisciplinary studies in post-colonialism and their connection to the creation of local artistic expression in these cities.

The course aims to examine the critique of space in visual culture, focusing on artistic creation, exhibitions and local curative projects in port towns in Israel: Acre, Haifa, Jaffa. The course will focus on the ways in which the exhibitions and projects represent the writing of a new artistic history in visual culture in general and in contemporary art in particular. 

All these will be examined in relation to the post-colonial discourse, which pertains to the repressions of the hegemonic culture against subjugated cultures that seek to make themselves heard and gain recognition, and exposes the power mechanisms in the process of erasing and forgetting these cultures. The post-colonial discourse provides a theoretical framework for critical discourse of the Other and the outsider in culture – in general and Israeli terms. All these will constitute the framework in which we shall discuss in detail test cases in the fields of contemporary art, cinema (documentary and narrative) and fringe theatre, which reflect and focus on a variety of port town images.

In the course, representations of the Mediterranean port town will be examined, both as a gate to the East to those entering the port, and as a gate to a cosmopolitan space that is open to Western influences. In the framework of this duality, multiple artistic influences will be examined in a multi-cultural space that included exposure to Muslim, Christian and Jewish cultures; manifestations of journeys and travels in artists’ creations, back and forth to the mixed cities after 1948. In addition, representations of the port’s liminal environments and marine environment will be examined in light of the experience of immigration by sea, which led to entities of exile and refugees; narratives of dynamism, instability and danger around the coastline and artistic representations that address destruction, ruination and the change of the marine environment that these cities are going through.

In the course, we shall examine artistic projects that enable alternative ways of observing the way in which history is written in mixed cities and port towns. Visual culture in the mixed cities is based, among other things, on images of the past, raised through memorial books, maps and pictures. They become essential references from which it is possible to determine the work of the collective memory. Through contemporary art creations that address the port towns, we shall examine the place consciousness that is represented in them and the way in which these representations undermine the social life, the collective memory and the traditional cultures in which they were created.