Ella Littwitz
Digging Down – Art of the Pre-Future
Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
02 November, 2021 – 03 April, 2022


‘Digging Down – Art of the Pre-Future’ is a group exhibition of Israeli artists whose main subject is archaeology. It is on display in the galleries amongst the items exhibited in the Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem, intermingled with the historical flow of the permanent exhibition, enabling a dialogue between distant periods of time throughout the museum alongside an inter-generational conversation within Israeli art.

The works presented in the exhibition engage in an in-depth study of the relations between the archaeology of the Ancient Near East and the civilizations of Egypt, Greece and Rome, on the one hand, and contemporary Israel art, on the other.

The exhibition seeks to examine what motivates artists and the arts in the second decade of the twenty-first century to constantly look back, to deal with existing archaeological remains and to create imaginary artifacts.
Undoubtedly, the role played by archaeological research in the Land of Israel – the center from which Judaism, Christianity and Islam emerged – and by the important discoveries made in this land, has effected and  continues to effect the history of art in modern Israel. In addition, an important influence was exerted by the ‘Canaanite Art’ school, which is also represented in the exhibition. That school grew in the 1940s out of a desire to separate from the Jewish cultural tradition of the diaspora and to establish a Hebraic culture connected to the people who lived in the Land of Israel in ancient times, particularly the Canaanites.

Like the ancient creators of mosaics or sculptural images, contemporary artists in Israel are influenced both physically and conceptually by local raw materials. Such topics as the attitude to the divine, fertility, ritual and death find expression in the artifacts in the museum’s permanent exhibition, as well as in the contemporary art works. The latter are all drawn from local materials, with all that this implies for both culture and identity.

‘Digging Down’ in the exhibition’s title pertains to archaeologists as well as to artists and visitors. Whether directly or indirectly, the art works create an artificial archaeological mound, whose foundations date thousands of years ago but whose summit belongs to our own days.

Uri Gershuni, Iris Cintra, Ella Littwitz, Alima Rita and Menashe Kadishman, Elad Rosen,
Assi Meshullam and Talia Yona Kliger, Ariel Hacohen, Gilad Efrat, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz,
Dganit Brest, David Adika, David Fine, Dina Shenhav, Vardi Bobrow, Zohar Gotesman, Hava Mehutan,
Haimi Fenichel, Khen Shish, Tal Shochat, Jonathan Ofek, Jonathan Hirschfeld, Yechiel Shemi, Lihi Turjeman,
Mark Yashaev, Michal Baror, Maayan Elyakim, Merav Kamel and Halil Balabin,
Mordechai Gompel, Miryam Gompel, Moshe Shek, Sigalit Landau, Amos Kenan, Rudolf (Rudi) Lehmann, Ruthi Helbitz-Cohen,
Ruth Patir, Shahar Marcus, Tomer Azulay, Tomer Sapir, Tamir Tzadok.
Closing: April 2022

Curator: Shira Friedman