In the Loop
General News : Mar 27, 2019

Israel Institute program brings guest artist to UF to redefine femininity in masculine culture

By Emma Friedman (BFA ‘22)

Hilla Ben Ari is redefining the female body and masculine culture through her work. Creating works mainly focused around the strength and resilience of the female body, the Israeli visual artist creates pieces of art that highlight the limitations and boundaries of the human body.

Through the Israel Institute's Visiting Artists Program, Ben Ari is guest teaching at the UF School of Theatre + Dance and exhibiting work with the School of Art + Art History’s University Galleries during the spring 2019 semester.

“I aim to re-read masculine narratives through the presence of the female body,” Ben Ari said. “I deal with the painful fragility of the body within the cultural and social structure, while exploring its strength and how it can resist.”

In a patriarchal society, Ben Ari captures how the female body adjusts and forms to the pressures of a masculine environment. She is inspired by female philosophers and their exploration of how women can resist the masculine power.

“The stereotypes and the dichotomous thinking always connect women to the body, so the body became the main territory for the resistance of women,” Ben Ari said.

Through various forms of media including video, photography, sculpture and installation, Ben Ari explores the duality of strength and fatigue in the female body. In her art, she includes remnants of her childhood and home, Israel. Her work is inventive, prevalent and timely, especially with such extraordinary female empowerment movements, such as the  “Me Too” movement. Her work is influential and serves as a creative commentary on popular social movements such as modern feminism.

During her stay in Gainesville, Ben Ari has presented her work and given workshops in collaboration with the School of Art + Art History and the School of Theatre + Dance.

“For me it's first an opportunity for a dialog,” Ben Ari said. “Secondly, I hope that our meetings support the students' artistic processes, inspire them to develop new ideas, and strengthen them with their own artistic vision.”

Ben Ari is working with dance students on a special project based on their work with the theme of memories. The final performance, which fuses together video and live performance, will take place at the end of April and will be open to the public.

The artist is also showing a solo exhibition titled Na'amah - A Tribute to Nahum Benari at the Gary R. Libby Gallery on UF’s campus, which runs from March 25 to April 19.

On Sunday, March 31 at 3 p.m. she will be giving an Artist Gallery Talk at the Samuel P. Harn Museum. She will discuss works by female artists on view in the exhibition ReMaking History with connection to her work. This event is part of the Women’s History Month celebration at the Harn Museum and is also open to the public.

The Visiting Israeli Artists Program, an initiative of the Israel Institute, brings Israeli artists from various disciplines—including film, music, choreography, and the visual arts—to North America for residencies, fostering high levels of interaction between Israeli artists-in-residence and the local communities through classes, lectures, exhibitions, screenings, readings, and performances.