Jerusalem Design Week 2023
The twelfth edition of Jerusalem Design Week recently returned to the Hansen House- Cultural Center for Design and Technology.
This prominent design event, recognized as Israel’s premier showcase, presented an extensive array of exhibitions, installations, and projects exclusively crafted for this year’s theme by over 200 designers hailing from Israel and around the world.
Aligned with the principles of design, each participant’s work revolved around the event’s annual motif, ‘Lies & Falsehoods.’ This theme sought to delve into the designer’s role by featuring creations that dive into the significance of illusion, which conceal and deceive, creating parallel realities, alongside works that deal with disclosure and honesty, and examine the possibility of truth and authenticity.
Over 6,000 guests were in attendance on opening night, and throughout the week, the event attracted around 40,000 visitors from various segments of Israel’s diverse society.
JDW’s curators, Dana Benshalom, Sonja Olitsky, and Dr. Jeremy Fogel, said, “Every year, JDW focuses on one theme, exploring unique Jerusalemite and Israeli situations that carry an international relevance. We believe that the singular cultural landscape in Israel makes it a lively lab of urgent global issues, and that it is the duty of design to respond and react to these issues.”
“This year’s theme “Lies and Falsehoods” is more relevant than ever before. While lies and falsehoods have accompanied human civilization since time immemorial, it seems that they are currently proliferating at unprecedented levels. The digital age has brought with it a comprehensive challenge to the concepts of trust, authenticity, and truth. The post-truth era has taken over both digital and analog reality,” they continued.
Throughout Jerusalem Design Week, an array of exhibitions and installations were complemented by a diverse lineup of daily events held at the JDW open patio. Over 18 events, led by 63 hosts and participants, unfolded on the JDW open patio, offering an engaging experience. Noteworthy keepsakes such as photoshoot postcards, AI-generated bills, machine-made love notes, believers’ T-shirts, chatGPT debates, and white lie candy canes were distributed to overjoyed attendees.
Within the main galleries curated by Dana Benshalom, Sonja Olitsky, and Jeremy Fogel, the focus was on the intricate relationships between humans and the artificial environments in which they reside. “Over-stuffed,” an exhibition curated by Shahar Kedem, delved into taxidermy’s role in asserting human dominance over nature and the desire to control the wild. The display prompted contemplation on notions of “natural” versus “synthetic,” and the interplay between surface and essence, design and preservation.
The ongoing Matchmaker project, launched in 2017, spotlighted Jerusalem’s creative forces, crafts, and diversity. The 2023 edition delved into the concealed facets of the city, offering an alternative perspective rich in urban legends, personal anecdotes, and cultural nuances. The matchmaking between buildings, storytellers, and local designers resulted in innovative souvenirs that encapsulated the spirit of the place and time.
Design’s historical role in conveying political and sociological ideas was explored in the “Propaganda” exhibition, curated by Benshalom, Olitsky, and Fogel. Designers dissected contemporary propaganda mechanisms by reinterpreting symbols, narratives, and spatial-temporal orders, fostering critical awareness.
Hansen House’s renewed hospice spaces showcased works under the theme of “Manipulation,” celebrating artisans’ mastery of materials and production processes. From tangible traditional materials to intangible elements like light, sound, and fog, the exhibition showcased craftsmanship’s magical dimension. Material manipulation, both deceptive and transformative, served as a medium to promote sustainable resource use and combat excessive material consumption.