Yakir Segev: Jonathan Hirschfeld and myself founded Hanina contemporary art in 2008 at 25 Hanina Street in Jaffa. After a year of activity with only the two of us operating as curators, designers, maintainers etc., the original location was closed down and we decided to recreate Hanina as a collaborative artist-owned gallery. After a year of searching for the other Hanina members we had formed a group of 12 artists and renovated a two-level space at 31 Y.L.Peretz Street in South Tel Aviv, near the Central Bus Station, which was active until November 2014. Hanina was recently relocated to 3 Hamifal Street in the Kiryat HaMelacha area.
Our motto was to form an act of giving, which is not at all common in the Israeli art world. This meant creating a gallery not to exhibit ourselves but to enable and expand a broader Israeli art discourse. Once omitting ourselves as exhibiting artists of the gallery, it enabled different voices, not necessarily the usual artists of the commercial Israeli art world, to exhibit and experiment with less expected phenomena in Israeli art, including newly graduated artists but also older artists from different generations.
Who are the gallery “owners”/members and how is the space run? How are decisions made?
15 artists run the gallery in a democratically group-decided logic, where every artist is in charge of his own specialty (electricity, design, writing, Facebook, etc.) on a routine basis but also functions as a project manager and curator of an exhibition or project he would like to create during the running year. At the moment the owners are: Oscar Abosh, Jonathan Hirschfeld, Naama Berkowitz, Vered Aharonowitz, Reut Asimini, Noa Heyne, Shira Tabachnik, Lee he Shulov, Jonathan Ofek, Yakir Segev, Yifat Giladi, Ron Vinter, Michael Igudin and Tziky Eisenberg.
Are there external curators you use or do the artists curate the shows and alternate on that role?
Of course, from time to time external curators have been brought in to realize projects in Hanina. We are very open and do not limit ourselves to self-curating and thus invite external curators to work with us.
Do you exhibit works by artists who are not members of the gallery? If so, how do you select them?
Primarily yes, the goal of Hanina is not to operate as a space for self-representation and exhibition of its members, but to allow for artists from different corners of the local art world to be able to exhibit in a professional but also free-of-charge art gallery. We rarely exhibit ourselves.
The selection of the exhibitions and their contents is made through a discussion with all of Hanina’s members to make sure the chosen projects are meeting with the gallery’s ideology and its goals
What made you move to Kiryat Hamelacha? Tell us a bit about the neighborhood in terms of its art scene.
We moved here because after 5 years of operating a gallery on a rather deserted corner in southern Tel Aviv, with almost no other cultural activity around us, we realized we needed to operate among other galleries. This was so public recognition could be obtained but also to deepen our individual way of letting other voices in Israeli art surface. We needed a more professional location for that, facilities-wise but also crowd-wise.
How do you see the neighborhood ten years from now?
We hope it will not totally submit to gentrification.
What are the challenges of running a co-op gallery?
First and foremost it is a daily struggle for survival on the economical aspect of running a free-of-charge gallery with no income besides self-funding. We do not know whether our future is secured since there is no municipal or private support for the gallery. It is up to only us to survive.
Another challenge is to always try to challenge the artistic level, production, and aspiration of our projects even though the resources are limited.
Tell us a bit about the current show.
We celebrated our relocation to Kiryat Hamelacha with a rare group exhibition of the gallery’s members, to try and sum up five years of activity in which we had changed locations, family status, members, cities and continents. The next exhibition is dealing with commenting on the next Israeli elections and is by Israeli artists not related necessarily to Hanina Gallery.
By Ella Manor
Multimedia artist, fashion photographer and writer Ella Manor specializes in photography, video performance, and painting installations and is currently a student at the postgraduate Fine Art program at Hamidrasha School of Art. A graduate of FIT, ICP and ESC, Manor has been featured in photography and art publications around the world, won numerous photography awards, and exhibited her work globally. She currently lives and works in Tel Aviv.
Follow Ella’s projects on instagram, her website, facebook and her facebook gallery.