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Art Collectives in Contemporary Israel

Cohen, Mor (2020) Art Collectives in Contemporary Israel. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This research examines art collectives working in Israel within the last decade. This research is currently the only in-depth study dedicated to contemporary socially engaged and collaborative art practices in Israel from the perspective of art research and political studies. It contributes to both disciplines by i) developing an interdisciplinary framework from which to analyse socially engaged and collaborative art; and ii) providing an alternative reading of contemporary Israeli art from a politically-oriented position. The motivation for conducting this research comes from the proliferation of collaborative art practices in Israel in the last decade, and especially after the 2011 Israeli protest for social justice. Within this research context I ask What is the socio-political context that has prompted the recent ‘social turn’ in Israeli art; and how artists use collaborative and socially engaged practices to initiate change within the political as well as the artistic field. To answer these questions, I adopt an interdisciplinary approach which relies on Jacques Rancière’s aesthetic regime theory and Félix Guattari’s notion of transversality. Guattari and Rancière emphasize the involvement of art with other terrains and develop an aesthetic reading on non-artistic phenomena. To examine the meanings and impacts of such involvement, I use other key concepts and models such as Gills Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of affect, Chantal Mouffe’s model of radical democracy, Sara Ahmed’s model of sociality of emotions, and Étienne Balibar’s concept of the right of residency. This theoretical toolbox enables me to closely examine the limitations and possibilities of using art as a tool to imagine more inclusive and plural ways of living together.

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