The Art Field in Israel: Structural Constraints and Strategies for Mobility
This study explores the structure and operation of the contemporary art field in Israel. Based on field data, the study demonstrates that the contemporary art market in Israel is essentially stratified. The research addresses three aspects of centrality and peripherality: position within the network, geographic location, and ideological orientation. The first parameter refers to the structure of the network and reflects the various positions held by actors. This dimension determines actors’ differential access to resources crucial to success in the art world; it also reveals the power provided by the network structure to teachers, gallery owners, and certain curators. The geographic dimension refers to the centrality of Tel-Aviv in the Israeli art world. The research discusses various strategies employed by actors operating in geographically peripheral areas, and explores their motivation. The ideological parameter illustrates the alternative views and activities of certain actors, including curators and artists, some of whom attempt to undermine the exclusion mechanisms of the central groups in the field. The study addresses the success or failure of these activities in genuinely changing the structure of the field and the artistic canon, and the attitudes of the central artistic establishment towards these alternative ideologies. The research indicates that even in a seemingly pluralistic endeavor such as art, social forces influence the practice of production and consumption. Actors interested in upward mobility and in developing a career in the art world are often obligated to adapt themselves to the rules dictated by the central actors in the field. However, actors who engage in prudent practices can survive and progress within the field, although they do not depend on the key actors and their behavior is not aligned with the accepted norms.
Keywords: Contemporary Art Market, Art market in Israel
Ph.D Student, Nuffield College, University of Oxford