Ashdoda Harbor Project
In the 1970s, Miriam Sharon (*1944, Israel, France) began dealing explicitly with gender and feminist issues as well as peace activism in her artistic practice and was thus excluded from the Israeli canon for a long time. She spent time in several European countries and in New York City. After her return to Israel, she actively fostered exchange between feminist artists, working jointly on exhibitions, publications and protests against ‘establishment art’. Among this network of internationally collaborating women were Nil Yalter (Turkey, Paris), Ulrike Rosenbach (Cologne), Suzanne Lacy (Los Angeles) and Mary Beth Edelson (New York). Throughout the 70s and 80s, Sharon primarily worked with performance and installation. By 1987, she had created roughly twenty extensive art projects that were earth, environmental and community works developed in cooperation with local people. Living with Bedouin women ("Sinai Desert People Project", 1975), she developed the sand costumes and tent pieces that she employed in many of her performances ("Naharia Factory Project", 1977, City Project/New York, 1979). These are symbols of a free choice of home – one that can be carried around and becomes a kind of second skin. In her practice, she has always merged art with (peace) activism, something which she continues to do today in her active advocation of women’s rights.
“We all moved, using our primal energy within the harbor space, creating organic, flexible and changing shapes with our body, transforming the harbor from an alienated space into a living one,” recalls the artist. For her project in the autumn of 1978, Sharon chose Ashdod Harbour, an industrial, harsh area in a city that had been built quickly around residing industries, as the site for a performance. She invited women from the city of Ashdod as well as harbour workers, who had come to Ashdod for work, mostly from Morocco. Drawing on the desert as a main source of inspiration and material (Sharon lived for a time with Bedouins), she created nine sand costumes that transformed the bodies of the workers in this ritual performance and led to a whole new experience of empowerment.
Copyright & Courtesy Miriam Sharon