Visit Artport’s Exhibition Virtually

This contemporary art center in Tel Aviv switched gears during lockdowns to provide online programs and a 360° virtual tour of the gallery.


The exhibition at Artport.

(Noam Preisman/ Courtesy of Artport)

Founded in 2011, Artport Tel Aviv is the home to Israel’s residency program for contemporary Israeli and international artists. It is also part of the vision of Jason Arison, chairmen of the Ted Arison Family Foundation, to support the art community. After all, Artport’s director Vardit Gross told Goodnet, “a good society invests in art and culture.” That’s why it was so important to stay open and vital during the Coronavirus lockdowns.

The residency program is a way to invest in local artists – and some internationals ones –, a greenhouse of sorts for growing strong artists who may be in different stages in their careers according to Gross. The artists who participate grow and develop professionally as they create and exhibit their work. They are in fact, in a transitional time in their lives, just like Artport itself in its location in South Tel Aviv in a neighborhood that is being brought back from being rundown to a haven for artists.

The past year was very challenging. Artport has always been a place where people dropped in to visit or for gallery tours. This came to a halt during the first lockdown. In May, after the lockdown ended, when international travel was still at a crawl, the program was opened up to Israeli’s who live in the southern and northern districts as well as artists who had lived abroad. That’s when Artport thought-out-of-the box and started doing online programs.

Every week there was a zoom event about things that the center could no longer do in person like talks and film screenings. One of the highlights was a program by Rafram Chaddad[VG1] , an Israeli visual artist who moved to Tunis; where his family had lived for centuries and an alumni of Artport’s initial year. His current work deals with the theme of isolation. Besides the pandemic, he lived this first hand when he was photographing synagogues in Libya in 2010 when he was arrested, imprisoned, and tortured. His ordeal lasted six months before he escaped with the help of Muammar Gaddafi’s son.

Bringing Artport’s exhibits to the public who could no longer visit in person was also a challenge. The Nonfinito 2020, the artists in residence group exhibition that was supposed to last two months, opened and closed more than once according to Gross so they found a creative way to make it virtual. Check out the 360° camera virtual exhibit.

Nonfinito featured Israeli artists Ella Littwitz, Yael Frank, Ruth Patir, Gil Yefman, Dor Zlekha Levy, Halil Balabin and Merav Kamel, and was curated by Gross.  According to Artport’s website: “ It presents new works by the program’s artists created in recent months, which reflect the themes that preoccupied them in the past year. It is still too early to understand how the epidemic has affected art, and it is impossible to tell where it will lead us in the future, but it is also impossible to ignore the oppressiveness that accompanies us these days and its implications on the ways in which we create and experience art.”

 The public’s response to the online programs has been very positive according to Gross. But what’s next? Gross said they are working on a 3D model of the gallery so that they can prepare fully virtual exhibitions. There is now new technology that developed out of need that can be used. “We adapted well to this trying time,” she said.

While other galleries and museums offered virtual tours, not all are small galleries with residency programs. Artport’s online programming kept the vision alive during the pandemic and it is growing – like the artists themselves – better and stronger.

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