The Tel Aviv Crafts and Design Biennale, 2020

The Biennale presents, for the first time in a large-scale museum exhibition that brings together different manifestations of contemporary craft and design in Israel. Shedding a spotlight on the local scene the Biennale maps the scope of these creative spheres, identifies resemblances and differences, and explores new directions.


The Biennale's interdisciplinary approach seeks to blur the boundaries between disciplines and undermine existing hierarchies. Its point of departure is matter as a form of cultural expression, and as a physical, virtual, or metaphorical presence - concerns that form a natural continuation of the museum's ongoing focus on local material culture.


Constantly shifting and evolving, craft and design function like communicating vessels, exchanging roles or even merging together. Whereas craft, a practice based on empirical knowledge, gives rise to unique artifacts, design is closely connected to industry and mass production. Both, however, revolve around material knowledge, are closely linked to science and technology, and are attuned to their environment and to the social, political and economic processes taking place in it. Operating in shared contexts, these two fields nourish and respond to one another.


The Biennale's title, First Person. Second Nature, relates to the creative individual's unmediated physical, emotional and mental engagement with different mediums of expression. Matter becomes a vehicle for the artistic message, while also serving as a means for self-expression, a habit developing into a "second nature," a dynamic force, and an inner compass. Physical and conceptual materials raise questions about the artistic object and its materiality, comment on local and global issues, and cast light on the artistic, cultural, social and economic significance of creatively engaging with craft and design. 

The 250 works featured in the Biennale are divided into five thematic chapters: First Person/Second Nature, Must/Need, Heaven (and) Earth, You are Here, Back to the Future. This division is reflected in the Rothschild Gallery's open-space exhibition layout, where different islands come together to form a creative archipelago. The works in the intimate space of the Migdal Gallery, meanwhile, echo artistic actions charged with diverse collective memories. The works integrated into the museum's permanent collections and outdoor sites generate thought-provoking dialogues.


In the course of the Biennale, the top floor of the Migdal Gallery will host, one after another, four laboratories led by three academic institutions: The Master's Degree program in Industrial Design, Bezalel; the Media Innovation Lab (miLAB) at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center; The David & Barbara Blumenthal Israel Center for Innovation and Research in Textiles (CIRtex), Shenkar; and the Material Flow Collective. Each lab offers a unique glimpse behind the scenes of diverse thinking, research and experimentation processes. 

The Biennale presents a challenging perspective on material creation, expanding and highlighting the cultural, social and visual dialogue between art, craft, and design. The connections created between past, present, and future partake in the continually evolving narrative of local material culture.