#03 What is the White City?
Nelly Agassi and Maya Raviv
Curator: Architect Sabrina Cegla
In the third Project Room exhibition artist Nelly Agassi and animator Maya Raviv address the question “What is the White City?” via la flâneuse – a female figure who wanders around the White City, assuming and abstracting its buildings as if they were dresses. La flâneuse seeks to decipher the changing city as if it were a fabric, wishing to reappropriate it through means considered feminine. Agassi and Raviv offer a new relationship between la flâneuse and the city by evoking forgotten visions, activities and the female presence in Tel Aviv’s urban space.
La flâneuse is also an architect who shapes and dismantles her environs. Her figure comes forth in a series of collages made from the historical architecture plans of three public buildings designed in the 1930s and 40s by women, for the women of the city, buildings whose construction was initiated by women’s organizations. La flâneuse is therefore strolling in a very familiar Tel Aviv urbanity.
Her calm demeanor is in stark contrast to the constant rhythm of the city, then as now, from the 1930s with the construction of the physical space now known as the White City, and our current times, which are characterized by high towers, building renewal plans, conservation and rapid urban development. La flâneuse bears witness to these processes of change, growth, decay; the emptying and neglect of the vision from which the city emerged.
Raviv and Agassi reflect on the connection between the female body, architecture and the city, between cultural conventions and dreams, and how the framework for the activities of these early 20th century women – the domestic space – was extended and became manifested in institutions meant to support women in performing their traditional roles – and the materiality associated with them. The artists act from within this context and expand it, adding their biographies to the story of the city and its inhabitants.
Through this personal investigation and interpretation of three public buildings from the 1930s and 40s, Raviv and Agassi bring forth the stories and actions of women in the urban space of the White City, shed light on the passage of women planners from the private “feminine” realm into the “masculine” public space, and the transformation of the domestic women-associated everyday sphere into a key object of modern planning.
Agassi and Raviv were both inspired by the publication of Building a New Land: Women Architects and Women’s Organizations in Mandatory Palestine (2020, Hebrew) by the architectural historian Sigal Davidi.
The exhibition La flâneuse is presented in the Liebling Haus Project Room, a space in which artists from various disciplines are invited to actively participate in a critical reflection on the question “What is the White City?” as part of an alternative, collaborative and ongoing investigation of the White City as a platform for discourse regarding conservation, urbanism, identity and culture in Tel Aviv. The Project Room is the open end of the permanent exhibition at Liebling Haus, which tells the story of the White City as the point of departure for a story in the making.
Exhibition production & installation: Anat Levy, Ahmed Mahagana
Translation: Sivan Raveh
Editing: Moran Shin
Graphic design: Efrat Goldman
Miranda Curtains – Arik Miranda, Sara Miranda
Rea – The Print House Ltd
Moran and Yaron Shin
Tzafi Sivan Spivak
Jeremie Hoffman and the Conservation Department at Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality