Joya: AiR / Mai Omer / Israel
“A few months before my stay at Joya: AiR I was invited to participate in a group exhibition, for which I had to produce a new artwork. Like the exhibition, the artwork was meant to deal with sensitive political issues such as colonialism, borders and refugees. As an artist who works mainly on socially engaged projects, I do not shy away from political matters. However, I do mostly tackle them by creating platforms for dialogues and by working through collaboration. This time I could not do so, and I had to work by myself. For this reason and others, I was feeling out of my comfort zone. Consequently, I decided that since I had to put extra thought into this project, I should dedicate my time at the residency for this purpose.
I got to Joya: AiR on a sunny Monday afternoon. After a nice chat with Donna and quick tour around the house, I went out for a short walk. With my lousy sense of orientation, I kept to a simple route and made sure that I did not lose sight of the house. After walking for twenty minutes or so, I realised that I am by myself, that is, entirely by myself. No one was walking behind me, and I was not about to run into anyone ahead. With the little to no internet reception, no one was about to call, I would not get any new emails, and therefore have no reason to check them obsessively as I usually do. I realised that I had not been in this state, of being completely by myself with no possible distractions, for at least a decade (perhaps longer). Not only did I need that kind of headspace to think about my project, but I also needed it in general.
Los Gázquez (Joya: AiR) was the perfect location for reflection. But it was not just the quietness and isolation that help me to develop my work. The most significant breakthroughs I had with my project were as a result of discussing it with the other artists who were there with me. In other words, it was not just the setting that made this residency so productive, it was also the company, the wonderful dinners, and the long conversations into the night.
Thank you, Simon and Donna for the great platform that you have created.
I am a multimedia artist and curator based in London and Tel Aviv. My work focuses on the intersections between art, politics and education and explores how communal spaces affects individuals. I think of art as a powerful tool. One that is used not only to re-think aesthetic languages but also to assemble communities, to build infrastructures, to gather knowledge, and to imagine and create socio-political alternatives, notwithstanding having fun. I often work collectively and in interdisciplinary groups. I find that this enriches my creative process and often result in an outcome that appeals to people outside of the artistic sphere. In recent years, I have collaborated with other artists, activists, architects, politicians and young people.
I studied fine arts at Hamidrasha – Faculty of the Art college in Israel (2009) and did my MA in Visual Sociology at Goldsmiths University of London (2018). In the years 2010 – 2017 I worked as a curator at The Israeli Centre for Digital Art, where I co-foundered the Ulam project (2014-ongoing).