Jerusalem is a vortex. What might a newcomer expect here? Stones resounding with unfathomable history. An intimidating mix of inflexible faiths and truths. The holiest place on the planet for legions of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. A much-contested hub.
Jerusalem is certainly all that. It is also a thriving city, in many ways not so different from other urban hubs: big, heterogeneous, and filled with the unexpected.
Here, the ancient and the modern are in constant touch: the glow of laptops illuminates faces in cybercafés tucked under ancient archways. A boy balancing a tray of freshly baked bagels on his head winds his way through a crowd of hipster tourists. Young soldiers in uniform gaze into pastry-shop windows. In the Old City, an Orthodox man hurries down the stone steps toward the Western Wall, wrapping up a conversation on his cell phone. And artists are here, inspired by the complexity of the city’s energy.
Jerusalem is a maze of cobbled alleyways, hidden courtyards, and grimy industrial zones, with countless corners where artists have set up shop.
The Mamuta Art and Media Center is situated behind a low stone wall in Jerusalem’s Talbiye neighborhood, in a historic former hospital.
The center provides studio spaces for artists in various media and is a venue for exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, conferences, and a residency program for contemporary Israeli and international artists.
The venerable Vision Gallery, tucked into a side street off busy Jaffa Road, is run by photographer Neil Folberg.
The Museum on the Seam – located, as its name suggests, on what was once the official border between East and West Jerusalem – presents innovative exhibitions that fearlessly take on sociopolitical issues.
And the city is also the home of Israel’s premier art school, the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design; its students help keep the creative vibe of Jerusalem young and vigorous.
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Lin Arison & Diana C. Stoll are the creators of The Desert and the Cities Sing: Discovering Today’s Israel, a treasure box that highlights Israel’s creative achievement and innovation.