Exhibition designer: Nadav Shalev
Exhibition architectural plannig: Arch. Keren Englman
Ehibition coordinators: Paulina Kuhn, Jarosław Pajek
The show Dani Karavan: Artist/Citizen focuses on major public sculptural environments by the late Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan (1930, Tel Aviv – 2021, Tel Aviv), who planned and constructed over 80 architectonic scale sculptural environments around the world and was the laureate of esteem art prizes from Israel and from around the world, including The Israel Prize, Praemium Imperiale by the Japan Art Association and UNESCO Artist for Peace award.
Karavan was born and raised on the sand hills of young Tel Aviv which was at the time on the verge of turning from a small visionary settlement into a “real” modern city. His father Avraham (Abie) Karavan was the first landscape planner of Tel Aviv. From him Karavan learned to appreciate and to respect nature. His mother, Zehava, was a classical music enthusiast, a compassionate mother and a humanist. Under her influence, Karavan the child grew up to become a man of morality. The youth movement in which he was a devoted and active member as a child and as an adolescent, firstly as a trainee and later on as a guide, “HaShomer HaTza’Ir” (The Young Guard), was a secular socialist labor movement. Its leaders encouraged the young members to respect the Other, nature and the arts and to be socially aware and engaged citizens. This was the immediate social, environmental and moral climate where young Dani Karavan formulated his credo, which was later translated into practice, when he grew up to become a professional artist and a public persona.
Unlike previous exhibitions dedicated to Dani Karavan’s work, the conceptual and technical starting point of this exhibition is not the artworks. Nor is it an attempt to present the development of his work in a chronological order. Rather, in the heart of this exhibition lie statements that Karavan voiced in public – mostly through essays, newspaper columns and letters – in regards to public issues that touched upon, often clashed with-, his public artworks and agenda. The artworks in such cases served him as a litmus paper to measure and tell the degree of socio-political tolerance and morality, or to be more precise, the degree of injustice caused at a given situation. Surely, the curatorial strategy chosen for this show entails a selective take, an editing tool, in respect to Karavan’s large oeuvre. At the same time the specific curatorial prism opens up a way whereby Karavan, the person and his works, may be addressed, experienced and evaluated. In the period of over 60 years of his career Karavan developed a special praxis that combines artistic engagement with civic activism, aesthetic concerns with morality. A modern realization, if you like, of the Ancient Greek notion of Kalokagathia (kalós kaì agathós) – a harmonious and balanced unity of the beautiful and the good.
Since Karavan’s large-scale public sculptures are immobile, as they are planted each in its specific surrounding, be it urban or rural, in Israel or elsewhere around the world, the artworks chosen for this exhibition will be presented through (a) still and video documentations, (b) replicas of elements from Karavan’s original pieces, (c) sketches and other graphic documents, (d) sculpture models. These will be presented alongside citations, excerpts of texts and statements composed or voiced by the artist, as well as with additional documents – textual or visual – relevant to the public issues and public campaigns which Karavan was engaged with. Karavan was committed to few public matters and concerns, all of which are based on his democratic, environmental, and cultural sensibility. This exhibition will address his commitment to peace, human rights, and the protection of cultural and natural heritages.
Dani Karavan: Artist / Citizen suggests to intertwine the artistic and the civic aspects in the life and work of the internationally renowned Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan into one single praxis, suggesting that this praxis is one of the primary characteristics through which Karavan’s art should be understood and experienced. Among the works presented in the show: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem (Knesset wall), Jerusalem IL (1966), The Negev Monument, Beer Sheva IL (1963–1968), Environment for Peace, Venice Biennale, IT (1976), Way of Human Rights, Nuremberg DE (1989–1993), Way of Peace, Nitzana IL (1996–2000), The Culture Square, Tel Aviv IL (2005–2013).