A Jeff Koons exhibition has arrived in Tel Aviv – and boy, it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The American artist’s collection is currently sitting in the Museum of Art until October. It does so, however, without an audience. Much like the rest of the world, Israel has closed her borders and enacted strong quarantine policies for an indeterminate amount of time. The Coronavirus has stopped us all in our tracks.
It is times like this when we should ask who we are – as a nation, as a people, as a culture. Soon after the restrictions came into place, Israel did what it does best: adapted to changing circumstances and took advantage of opportunities available elsewhere.
This means we immediately saw the rise of classes and events taking place indoors via telecommunication apps like Zoom. In some ways, we’ve never been in a better age to self-isolate and practice social distancing. We are all moving online – from Rabbinic teachings to book clubs; dance classes to movie nights – Israeli tech companies and social settings have adapted to the unpredictable times we face ahead.
So, the Museum of Art must do the same and stream Jeff Koons’ exhibition online.
Jeff Koons is a drop of sunshine in these otherwise rainy days. His work highlights global pop culture references and is an opportunity for locals in the Tel Aviv area (and now the whole country) to benefit from his work. ‘Absolute Value’, as he has named the collection, includes some of his most impressive pieces like ‘Hulk (Rock)’ and ‘Dolphin Taz Trashcan’. There is no reason why the Museum, which is closed much like the beaches and public spaces across the city, can’t open its doors if only to place a camera inside the 850-foot hall or host virtual discussion forums.
Those who are set to benefit from this move are those most affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. Artists and creatives who have side-hustles as bar staff or waiters have lost their primary income. Children who normally spend their days at school are now seeking an education from within their own homes. Suddenly, the world is more isolated than it was only a few weeks before. Now, people are looking to their screens at home to fill time and pivot their lifestyles.
This is the audience who will benefit most from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art joining the rest of us in our online adventures.
It is the perfect opportunity for Israel to both innovate by moving online, while also expanding her cultural impact for the benefit of her people. The show must go on. We must never halt in our tracks. To innovate is to be Israeli, and this is at the heart of who we are.
This can also encourage talks and discussions similar to what is already happening online. People around the country are logging on to discuss elections, books, movies, and religion – so why not art? Now is the time for people to gather and talk about one of the most influential artists living today.