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Oil painting on canvas by Melanie Daniel

Press release from Ashdod Art Museum:

"The objective of this collection exhibition is to illuminate the development of the Ashdod Art Museum since its 2003 opening. From 2004 to 2011, Yona Fischer served as the museum’s curator and artistic advisor, and endeavored to cultivate the museum as a distinctive institution. To this end, he defined it as a regional museum, based on the French model, which distinguishes between central museums and regional ones located in provincial towns, which concentrate on local culture and history. This model was helpful in defining the unique features of this museum in comparison with other peripheral museums in Israel, mostly through locally oriented activities that do not settle for supplementing the agendas of centrally located institutions. Setting up the museum’s collection and instituting a permanent exhibition from its holdings were part of this effort.

An important part of the museum’s collection is the Yona Fischer Collection, which comprises mostly works by artists who have worked with Fischer over the years, many of whom have also exhibited in the museum. The majority of the artists chose the works themselves, in reference to their direct or indirect dialogue with Fischer. In 2013 the collection was presented in an exhibition that reflected the museum’s development in its first decade, also marking Fischer’s retirement. Many works from this collection are on view in the current exhibition.

Over recent years, the museum has continued to hone its distinctiveness through constant exploration of issues related to local identity. Such issues are looked at against the unique backdrop of the city of Ashdod – the first Israeli city to be planned and built post independence – as a Mediterranean, multicultural city of immigrants. This endeavor has found expression in a number of exhibitions. “Drive In” (January 2015) presented for the first time the development of personal photography in Israeli art and media as engaged in questions of locality and identity. A trilogy of exhibitions organized in collaboration with the Méditerranée Festival for Mediterranean Culture pursued a conceptual inquiry into identity in a state of constant flux. The first exhibition, “Until You Get Out of My Voice” (May 2014), addressed the identity of third- and fourth-generation immigrants in Israel as a cultural synthesis between traditional and Western culture. The second exhibition, “The Hinder Sea” (June 2015), looked at the place of the Mediterranean Sea in Israeli culture and art. The third, “(Dis)Place” (June 2016) , associated the Israeli sense of place with the realities of contemporary global migration. Together, these shows explored the sensitive neural centers of contemporary Israeli culture, as well as the tectonic changes within it.

Initially based on donations and lacking a clear collecting policy, in the past few years the collection has focused on the museum’s areas of interest. Accordingly, the Ashdod Art Museum has acquired works by artists exhibited by it as well as pieces by other artists engaged with similar issues. Therefore, the current exhibition presents a further stage in the formulation of the museum’s DNA."