“In a democratic society, the arts must be accessible to all, regardless of means.” says Laurie Tisch, founder and director of The Illumination Fund. Tisch, the daughter of Loew’s co-founder Preston Robert Tisch, founded the Fund in 2007 to “find innovative approaches to education, the arts, healthy lifestyles, and service in order to illuminate solutions that transform our urban landscape.”
The Wall Street Journal has called Tisch’s philanthropic work “practically a profession.” The Illumination Fund, a New York City based foundation, “plays an engaged and active role in supporting organizations and leaders who have a positive impact and lasting effect on well-being and community life.” Much of its work focuses on the communities of New York City; the current exhibit, however, focuses on two of Israel’s communities, seen through the work of Israeli photographers Assaf Evron and Oded Hirsch
With the Fund’s offices on West 56th Street serving as a gallery, the works of the Israeli photographers are mounted on its stark white walls. Each artist uses photography to examine the cohesiveness and development of a specific community.
Assaf Evron followed the “Street Community” of scrap metal collectors working in the streets of Tel Aviv. His subjects are part of the “urban landscape… the unofficial shadow economy that exists alongside metropolitan commerce,” His photographs of shopping carts filled with assortments of metal pieces, manipulating light and shadow to form images of “ephemeral collections.” Evron followed the metal gatherers on their routes – “a form of urban ’hunting,’” His photographs concentrate on his unique subject. Only the carts and their contents are pictured – alone in space: the images show order evolved from disorder, “sculptures” of random “accumulations of metal scraps.”
The work of Oded Hirsch focuses on an Israeli community that remains deeply rooted in nature, remaining close to its historic agricultural base. Born in Kibbutz Afikim, Hirsh now lives and works in New York. He earned his BA at the WIZO Academy of Design in Haifa and his M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. Hirsch’s work “examines the effects of ideologies on collective and individual behavior.” His work combines the real with the surreal, bending the “sets of rules and logic.”
The exhibit is a collaboration between the Illumination Fund and Artis, an independent nonprofit that “promotes and supports the Israeli contemporary art community” internationally. Founded in 2004 and based in New York and Los Angeles, its purpose is to “support exceptionally good Israeli artists and to create opportunities for their exposure abroad.” The organization supports the concept of “Israeli cultural diplomacy” and promotes “cultural missions and hospitality for professional visitors” to art-related events in Israel.