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August 10, 2018 1:12 pm

New York Opening of Israeli Exhibit Inspired by Ancient City of Sodom Set to Coincide With Fashion Week

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

A photo from the “Mount Sodom” project showcasing Maskit’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection. Photo: Eyal Nevo / Maskit.

An Israeli fashion and art project inspired by the ancient city of Sodom in the Judean Desert will debut in New York City in September to coincide with Fashion Week.

The exhibition, called “Mount Sodom,” is a collaboration between well-known Israeli fashion photographer Eyal Nevo — who has worked closely with top Israeli model Bar Rafaeli and had his photos featured in major publications  — and the Israeli fashion house Maskit.

The exhibit features 8-9 pictures by Nevo of pieces from Maskit’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection as well as a six-minute video, all taken against the backdrop of Sodom in the Judean Desert.

Modeling in the photos and video is former Miss Israel Shavit Wiesel and the clip also features the Inbal Dance Theater, Israel’s first contemporary dance company. A short version of the video will be displayed on a billboard in Times Square when the exhibition opens.

“Mount Sodom” is inspired by the ancient city of Sodom, its story and what it is today, Maskit’s artistic director Sharon Tal explained to The Algemeiner on Thursday.

“Its the desert but it’s really next to the Dead Sea and all the factories of the Dead Sea are in this area as well,” the Israeli designer said. “So on one side you have the beauty of the nature, and very powerful mountains, and the beautiful salt of the Dead Sea, and on the other hand you have the factories that human beings created and placed in this nature. The contrast and stress between them makes this collection rich.”

“Mankind is kind of creating something that is not natural and destroying nature, and we show it all over in the pictures of the exhibition,” she added.

In the biblical story of Sodom, two angels descended upon the city to investigate sins committed by its residents. They were greeted hospitably by Abraham’s nephew, Lot, and warned him about their mission to destroy the city. The angels commanded Lot to leave Sodom with his family but to not look back. However, as the destruction took place, Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.

The “Mount Sodom” exhibition will feature a photograph titled “Lot’s wife,” which depicts the model looking back at the city.

In a press release for the exhibition, Nevo explained about Mount Sodom, “This piece of nature, located at the lowest point in the world, is unique. Sodom’s past and its current situation ignited my imagination in the inner journey I undertook together with Maskit, a firm which also has an iconic symbolism for Israel.”

Tal added, “Discussions about the ancient story of Sodom provoked emotions and images of once-magnificent landscapes, now degraded by industrialization.”

The “Mount Sodom” project, which includes many evening couture gowns, premiered in Tel Aviv in June 2018. It is part of a trilogy for Maskit — three collections inspired by the desert.

“I see art as something very individual and when we first presented this exhibition we didn’t say anything about it,” Tal told The Algemeiner. “We wanted everyone to take it to their own place; everyone will look at it and think about something they want to see in those images. I had so many people saying different things and this is what makes me happy. This is what makes it art.”

She continued, “I don’t want to put something in people’s mouth, like tell them what to think. I want them to think and tell me what they see. For me it’s the most important thing in art: you don’t have to kind of feed people. You have to let their minds think and work when they see the image.”

Maskit was formed in 1954 by Ruth Dayan, wife of late legendary Israeli general Moshe Dayan, to provide jobs to immigrants in the garment and design industry. Maskit designs were treasured by celebrities, including Audrey Hepburn, and collaborations took place with Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy. Name-brand department stores also carried their collections. It shut down in 1994, and was reopened and rebranded by Tal, with Ruth Dayan’s blessing and input, in 2013.

Ruth Dayan, at the age of 101, is still involved in Maskit. Tal noted that she is “still very, very energetic” and said “we call her ‘the dinosaur’ because she’s so precise, and unique and something that doesn’t exist anymore. She’s like a legend.”

Before taking the helms of Maskit, Tal lived in London as the embroidery designer for the Alexander McQueen fashion house. She helped work on McQueen’s last two collections before his death in 2010 and was also involved two seasons earlier with McQueen and his team. She moved back to Israel at the end of 2010 to give birth to her first child with the plan of moving back to London afterwards, but ultimately she decided to stay in the Jewish state. She was determined to get back into the fashion industry, this time in Israel.

“I got [Ruth’s] number from someone who works with my father-in-law and I just called her and at the beginning she said ‘Oh, I’m so busy, can you come in a month?’ and I said ‘Oh Ruth, I have to know,'” Tal recalled.

“It was right after [Duchess of Cambridge] Kate Middleton got married and she got married with an Alexander McQueen dress and I was, after a year of not doing anything with fashion because I was kind of only a mom, I was really upset,” she said. “I was like ‘I could’ve done this dress. I could’ve been involved in Kate Middleton’s dress if I was still there.’ And I missed it and I was so determined to do something so I called Ruth and said, ‘I need to come and see you.’ I  met her and I thought I was going to stay for one hour, but I left after eight hours and that what the beginning because we kind of fell in love with each other.”

Tal told The Algemeiner she is continuously inspired by Israel’s diversity: its many cultures, the “textures and colors of the desert and Dead Sea,” by Tel Aviv being “so alive, and kicking and artistic,” and much more.

She said, “There’s something about the mix of cultures and colors and crafts coming from so many different cultures that is very unique…It’s so small but still it has so much to offer…You cannot believe how much inspiration you can get from this small country.”

“Mount Sodom” will be on view from September 6 through October 16 in the lobby space at 1441 Broadway. The show is presented by ZAZ10TS — the art program organized by artist and philanthropist Tzili Charney — and will be open to the general public, but appointment is required for the showroom one block away, which will feature Maskit’s entire Spring/Summer 2019 collection. The video featured in the exhibition will be on view in Times Square on the corner of 41st and Broadway on Sept. 6 from 6-8 pm.

Watch the video below to get a sneak peek of “Mount Sodom:”

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