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22h38, 2007 © Courtesy of the Artist and Haifa Museum of Art
Curated by: Tami Katz-Freiman

26 Shabbetai Levi Street
November 3rd, 2007 - March 23rd, 2008



"BoysCraft" focuses on the manual and labor-intensive aspects of artmaking, and on the use of handicraft traditions in contemporary art. This exhibition centers upon the sensory experience of excess, materiality and multiple details, and brings together works by local and international male artists who share an interest in traditional handicrafts formerly identified with the domain of "women's work," with "folk" art or with applied art.

This exhibition, which includes works by 41 Israeli and international artists, aims to shed light on the engagement with manual crafts as a cultural and sociopolitical practice. The artists participating in this exhibition present works composed of fabric, paper, beads, thread, wallpaper and other decorative materials in a range of techniques - including embroidery, weaving, beading, knitting and paper cutting. The imagery in most of these works is based on "male" or "macho" stereotypes, yet their creation involves techniques that are culturally associated with "female" or "childlike" forms of expression. The decorative, ornamental and sometimes obsessive qualities of these artworks allow for an examination of changing perceptions of masculinity, of beauty and of the relations between art and craft.

This wide range of works creates a rich tapestry of different cultures, styles and skills. The works of each of the participating artists are characterized by a demanding and time-consuming work process, which involves monotonous and repetitive actions based on age-old craft traditions. These practices, which were marginalized in previous decades outside of the modernist cannon, have penetrated into the heart of contemporary artmaking. The prominent artists now choosing to undermine accepted distinctions between these domains thus reflect a new cultural spirit imbued with nostalgia for the predigital age; for personal and "authentic" forms of expression; for art created in community-related contexts; and for values such as human fraternity and social healing.

"BoysCraft" reflects the complex processes that have taken place in the aftermath of the feminist revolution, and presents a new generation of artists who have internalized feminist, gender-related and postcolonial theories. By combining traditional techniques with an unconventional use of materials, these artists voice various forms of social criticism, shed light on the problematics and disruptions that characterize contemporary cultures and identities, undermine artistic conventions and raise questions concerning gender - from a male point of view. This exhibition thus points to the ways in which the gains of the gender revolution have been internalized by the "new man" in both local and international contexts with the gradual decline of machoism.