Michal Baror lives and works in Israel/Palestine and London, where she graduated from her Masters in Fine Arts at the Royal College of Art (Dissertation Distinction) in 2013. Previously, she graduated with honors from her BFA degree in Fine Arts from the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. Her recent achievements include being a Finalist in the New Sensations competition led by Saatchi gallery, the Metro Imaging RCA prize, as well as a solo gallery at the Petach Tikva Museum of Art.
1) What or who inspired you to want to be an artist?
I can’t think of anything specific that inspired me to become an artist. I have been doing things with my hands since I can remember myself; it wasn’t really a decision I made. However, I started working with photography when I was doing volunteer work for an organization called “Machsom Watch.” I found the possibility to combine art and activism fascinating. Today my works are far from documentations, but they do contain a political aspect and they do pose the question: “What can we learn from photographic images?”
2) What was your creative journey that has brought you to where you are in your career today?
During my studies at the Bezalal Academy, I began shaping my worldview in relation to art. My tutors there opened my eyes and my mind to conceptual art and to thought evoking art. During my 1st degree, I was going through the library of my grandparents who were German Jews, and I found many 19th and early 20th-century diaries that described the Holy Land from an outsider’s perspective. I became fascinated by the difference between those images and the reality in Israel. I started looking into places that exposed this difference, such as natural history museums and historical sites. Back then, I was working only with direct photography. When I graduated two years later, I moved to London for my Masters at the Royal Collage of Art, where I worked with images from The Palestine Exploration Fund’s archive, the first organization established specifically for the study of Palestine (1865) This helped me re-view my motherland through a foreign timeframe and ideology. What I found made me stop using the camera and look into different methods of working with archival images.
3) What do you need as an artist today?
My main needs are space and time. My works are based on long research, hours of looking at and learning archival materials. I work like an historian; I create a network of connections around the materials I work with. I need space in order to transform this historical research into photographic sculpture, so it may affect the experience of the viewer.
4) What creative project are you working on now?
The recent show was a solo exhibition called “The Hawks and the Sparrows” at the Petach Tikva Museum of Art. This show is the accumulation of one year of artistic research. More about recent and upcoming projects and events can be found at michalbaror.com.
5) Where do you see yourself and your career in 10 years?
No Idea–hopefully with a PHD combining artistic practice, teaching, and research.
6) What does it mean to you to be an Israeli artist?
To constantly try and break our presumptions regarding this land. To try and fearlessly look at the land and at ourselves, including the ugliness and the racism, and then try to fight it.
7) What does it mean to you to have an organization like the America-Israel Cultural Foundation supporting Israeli culture in the past 75 years?
There are very few organization that support local culture in Israel. Artists here fight to survive! AICF opens up little windows of hope and support that help you free time and be able to concentrate on your art.