Brazilian artist Sofia Borges speaks at the iftar program at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem, April 13

Weeks of terror and clashes did not deter ‘East and West’ from breaking fast together

Ibdaa School of the Arts aims to be 'a catalyst for interdisciplinary, cross-genre, cross-border conversations'; this year it hosted Ramadan break-fast meal for artists from around the globe, as well as for those living in both West and East Jerusalem

The Media Line |
Published: 04.22.22, 13:52
The Ibdaa School of the Arts, the first Palestinian visual and performing arts school, hosted an iftar (Ramadan break-fast meal) for guests from East and West in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
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  • Only five years old, the school serves students between the ages of 14 and17, Elise Bernhardt, founder and director of the Jerusalem International Fellows residency program for performing artists, choreographers, visual artists, architects and urban planners from around the world, said.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    Brazilian artist Sofia Borges speaks at the iftar program at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem, April 13, 2022
    Brazilian artist Sofia Borges speaks at the iftar program at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem, April 13, 2022
    Brazilian artist Sofia Borges speaks at the iftar program at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem, April 13
    (Photo: The Media Line)
    Bernhardt and Elana Ben-Haim, the programs manager of Jerusalem International Fellows, excitedly welcomed guests of all languages and backgrounds as they walked through the door. In March, four artists arrived from India, Mexico, Brazil, and the United States, respectively, for the new program’s pilot 10-week residencies in Jerusalem.
    The program provides a space for global artists to collaborate with independent artists and organizations in both east and west Jerusalem. The goal, as stated on its website, is “to be a catalyst for interdisciplinary, cross-genre, cross-border conversations through creative collaboration; to expose and connect the burgeoning Jerusalem cultural eco-system to a worldwide creative network; for fellows to be invited to return to Jerusalem; and for fellows to return home with a deep and nuanced perspective on Jerusalem.”
    Sofia Borges, a visual artist from Brazil, was the artist of focus during the iftar celebration - the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Tables were set in a “U” shape, facing a projector screen and Borges’ table, with her art hanging all around the room. After plates were filled with a delicious array of traditional Palestinian foods, the program began.
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    A student stunned the crowd with a piano piece at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem
    A student stunned the crowd with a piano piece at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem
    A student stunned the crowd with a piano piece at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem
    (Photo: The Media Line)
    A talented student of the Ibdaa School of the Arts, introduced by Principal Melhem Amen Bader, stunned the crowd with a piano piece. It was an inspiring display of the work being done at the school.
    Borges then took the stage to describe her personal art form and the program she is creating and implementing at the art school. Each resident is spending eight of their 10 weeks with a local host organization in Jerusalem. Borges is spending her time teaching and collaborating with the youth at the Ibdaa School.
    Borges, an esteemed conceptual artist, shared her interest in the concepts of forming and of strength. She recognizes that youth are in a period of constant change, in their bodies, and for the youth in her program, in the city. She is helping the students understand who they are and the self-narratives they carry.
    Her goal is to take these “fossilized” ideas and stories of self, form them into images, and then express them through art. “Art is about expressing yourself,” Borges said.
    The Brazilian artist shared that one of her big personal life lessons led to a breakthrough with the students.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    (L-R) founder and director of the Jerusalem International Fellows residency program Elise Bernhardt, Principal Melhem Amen Bader, and artist Sofia Borges, at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem
    (L-R) founder and director of the Jerusalem International Fellows residency program Elise Bernhardt, Principal Melhem Amen Bader, and artist Sofia Borges, at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem
    (L-R) founder and director of the Jerusalem International Fellows residency program Elise Bernhardt, Principal Melhem Amen Bader, and artist Sofia Borges, at the Ibdaa School of the Arts in Jerusalem
    (Photo: The Media Line)
    “You can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be strong,” she told the crowd.
    Borges said that she is learning from the students while they are learning from her. They broke the mold of her preconceived ideas, and she is not ready to say goodbye. They are discussing and planning a longer, more extensive program with the arts school, she announced.
    Bader closed out the night in gratitude and by quoting the late Professor Boris Schatz, founder of Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, as saying the only way to bridge the gap is through art. “I feel this happening tonight,” Bader said.

    Story written by Crystal Dunlap and republished with permission from The Media Line.
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