Dining Room as Parable

The kibbutz always invested much thought and resources into the dining room: it was designed by the best architects and all paths led to it. From the beginning, the dining room was the kibbutz’s pulsing heart. The kibbutz society regarded itself as a large family and a substitute for the traditional one. In this milieu the dining room served as the place in which the social, spiritual, political, and cultural life of the community took place.
The changes that took place in the kibbutz over the years left their mark on the dining room as well. What was is not what will be, and the directions to which these changes will lead is still unclear. Recently there has been a discussion on preserving the kibbutz space as a kind of unmatched settlement, and this too relates to the future of the kibbutz dining room.
This exhibition is an attempt to examine the current significance and role of the dining room and understand the point of departure for the future. Four photographers documented dining rooms in 17 kibbutzim. The photographed dining room manifest different levels of activity – some are active and full of life while others are closed and deserted.One can see the common elements that echo past glory in different dining rooms: the baby grand piano found in almost all dining rooms (including the empty ones), a decorative ceramic wall, the work of a local artist (some well-known and first generation kibbutzniks), huge lawns spread around the building, reflected in its windows, and a modernistic, simplistic and minimalist design. In the empty dining rooms the neglect is apparent, while in the active ones one can feel the atmosphere of “togetherness" on Friday nights or at festive dinners.
These photographs evoke several questions: what need does the dining room fulfill today? Does the kibbutz community need this type of center, and if so, in what shape and form? What happens to the public space of a locality when a building, inaccessible to the public, is at its center? How can one fill these empty buildings with content? What can develop as an alternative to a community’s center of life? Spectators are invited to join a tour of different dining rooms, a tour that is, in fact, a status report on public space in kibbutzim in 2009.


Photographers: Boaz Lanir, Etti Chen Braier, Guy Raivitz, Racheli Glicklich
Curators: Michal Shacknai, Idit, Shacknai Ran

Opens: May 31

Closes: August 21, 2010