“Do clothes make the man or is it perhaps man – or woman, rather – who breathes life and power through clothes?
“A second skin, clothes represent the human body and its basic need for shelter and protection. It simultaneously represents a fundamentally psychological phenomenon and therefore occupies a liminal space between the physical and the abstract, the literal and the metaphorical, the immortal and the transient.
Ronit Elkabetz left behind a whole world of unforgettable characters. Her wardrobe represents more than just a time capsule or a collection of memories. In the depths of her closet, different realms intermingled… “
This is how the exhibition that I visited this week in the Holon Design Museum in Israel starts.
Je t’aime, Ronit Elkabetz grew from the research of the wardrobe of the Moroccan-Israeli Ronit Elkabetz (1964-2016) who was an international icon, an actress, screenwriter and director as well as a social activist for women’s rights in general and Mizrahi women in particular, and an artist’s muse.
In her work she combined center and periphery, fashion and art, Be’er Sheva, Kiryat Yam and Tel Aviv – Mogador, Paris, Israel and the world, creating characters that have been etched onto social and cultural consciousness.
As I was able to investigate, she directed a critical look at her own culture, denouncing his archaisms and contradictions throughout her career. And she always interpreted strong and untamable women.
Even without having heard of her before, or having seen any of her films,
The exhibition builds a mystically enveloping atmosphere, where the aura of a strong woman is permanently present throughout the entire journey.
I imagine that for visitors with a greater knowledge about the Israeli (and international) cultural scene, the impact must be even greater. Not only because they saw those same outfits on the big screen or in the red carpet. But also because the exhibition takes place almost a year after her death when the artist was only 51 years old.
The exhibition invites viewers into a lucid dream following Ronit Elkabetz. Her brilliant ability to formulate dreams, identity, and power through cloth was and continues to be a source of inspiration and power to women and men everywhere. Onscreen, onstage, on the red carpet and in her private life, she has allowed people to dream of another reality – and make it a reality.
The collection comprises more than 500 items and each element represents a milestone in the rich biography of Elkabetz. Together, they form a collection of considerable cultural and spiritual value. I invite you to wander this visit with me as to know the person and the artist behind her clothes.
“An in-deep look at the contents of closet as the viewer wanders through the exhibition allows the reading of a spiritual will, within which each object is loaded with biographical, symbolic, and psychological meaning”
“The care and respect he showed clothes […] showcase a unique understanding of garments’ place in the culture. For many years, fashion and dress were given quite hostile treatment by academia and museums, institutions that have been historically run by men who thought fashion history was a peripheral, superficial and unimportant discipline. as opposed to them, throughout history many women (and some men) have regarded dress as a powerful tool for expression and self-actualization, the signification of identity, reputation, and power, as well as a means of inhabiting spiritual and physical space in a society that marginalized them. “
“Ronit elkabetz transformed dress into a language and an art in a transgressive, even revolutionary way. Her persona confronted these archaic understandings, formulating through her many silhouettes the possibility of choice and a call to women to be who they are, to be visible and not disappear. “
In First Person
Here are some phrases from Ronit Elkabetz that contribute to completing the meaning of the exhibition:
“I truly believe clothes have a spirit and a soul, so it’s important to me to care for them and then let them go when the time comes. After they have traveled a long way with me, I allow them to continue on, like a story or a film that needs to go on with its own life “
“I have never been attracted by the roles of beautiful women, but by the difficulty, by the dirt, what itches and what bleeds”
“I dress as I like. No rules. No inhibitions.”
Some Biographical Information
- She was born in a small town near Gaza, and she was the daughter of a postal official and a hairdresser, who arrived in Israel from Morocco one year before her birth.
- Her dream was to become a stylist and her first jobs were as a model.
- In her country, she often collaborated with young filmmakers committed to renewing Israeli cinema and opening it to arguments unrelated to the war.
- At the time of her death, she was working on her next project: a drama about the last year of Maria Callas’ life.
Her most famous work is her trilogy as director and actress where she talks about the difficulties of women in Orthodox Israeli society, through Viviane’s struggle to gain visibility, make her voice heard and win her freedom:
- To Take a Wife (2004)
- Seven days (2007)
- Gett: The trial of Viviane Amsalem (2014) Watch Trailer
Some of her other films as an actress:
- Sh’Chur (1994)
- Late Marriage (2001) Watch Trailer
- Alila (2003)
- Or (My treasure) (2004) Watch Trailer
- The Band’s visit (2007) Watch Trailer
- The Girl on the Train (2009)
- Jaffa (2009) Watch Trailer
- Free Hands (2010)
- Invisible (2011) Watch Trailer