This is a guest post from Roni Ezuz
Whenever Israel is portrayed in the media, it tends to be around its politics, security situation or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This situation makes it very difficult to understand the cultural richness that can be found in this beautiful country. Whenever Israel does get mentioned in positive contexts such as these, it seems as though the only cultural centers in Israel can be found in either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. And while Tel Aviv does contain an overabundance of cultural and touristic attractions, it does not hold a monopoly over such events. Many such events take place outside of Tel Aviv, and here is a prime example for just such an event.
The throng of hundreds of men, women and children of all ages, which filled the streets of the city of Rehovot (a small city 20 miles south of Tel Aviv and the home of the world famous Weizmann Institute) last Tuesday night, could attest to that fact. This huge crowd rushed the streets in order to take part in the annual “International Rehovot Festival for Live Statues”. This three day festival has taken place this year for the third time, and this year it was bigger than ever.
Over 150 performers from all over the world, including France, Spain, Germany Argentina, and of course Israel, participated in this fantastic spectacle. These unique artists created colorful and exciting live statues of different themes for the purpose of the event, making fantasies come to life.
This year the event’s compound was divided into four different sections: one for Israeli artists, one for international artist, and another for participants who created original human artworks especially for the purpose of competing in the festival’s contest, and the last but not least, was the one dedicated to live statues made by children. These children had taken part in a new project for advancement of the arts, funded by the city of Rehovot. The contest’s grand prize was a special grant.
The festival itself showcased many interesting original exhibits, such as three bored fifties house-wives, a glowing alien hanging from the treetops, a music-box with a live dancing ballerina spinning in front of her mirror, a human flowerpot, a scary gargoyle, fairies, centaurs, goblins and even a mermaid captured by a fisherman. But most extravagant was the exhibit situated right in the center of the street – a big cage full of climber plants and bananas, hosting a very lively live statue of a monkey. The monkey was jumping up and down the cage, banging on the bars of the cage, calling out to the crowd and even hanging from the cage’s ceiling!
A personal favorite of mine was a beautiful white nymph who, whenever a passing child threw a coin into her hat, gracefully showered him or her with sparkly “fairy dust”.
The highlight though (for most children present, anyway), were the makeup counters, available for all who wished to actively participate and join these colorful celebrations of original art. In addition to all of these, the city has also situated many food stands along the streets. As you can probably imagine, the children were over the roof with joy, running around from one live act to another, eagerly waiting to see what would happen as these still masterpieces came to life with the toss of a coin.
But make no mistake, this celebration was not solely meant for children. Many young adults, older couples and teenagers swarmed the streets, inspired by the wonders on display, cooperating happily with the performers as many of the statues roamed between them, just waiting for a photo-op.
This wonderful initiative did suffer from problems such as crowdedness and the unbearable heat and humidity typical to the Israeli summer and the lack of organized parking area. But all of these were hardly anything to consider as this carnival was rolling around you.
If you did not get the chance to go this year, don’t be too saddened. This festival is quickly becoming a very strong and steady tradition in Rehovot. And I bet that next year, it will be even more impressive. Definitely a lot to look forward to!