Avital Barak is a scholar of movement and performance, an art curator and a PhD candidate at Tel Aviv University’s School of Cultural Studies. Her research focuses on the varieties of resistance visible in manifestations of movement in the public space. She teaches in the Dance Department at the Kibbutzim College, and since 2014 has coordinated the Living Together research group in the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University, where she is a fellow researcher.
She co-edited the book The Mount, The Dome and The Gaze: The Temple Mount in Israeli Visual Culture, published in January 2018 by Pardes Press. Barak is also a member of the Institute of Public Presence at the Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon, where she leads artistic and scholarly research projects, and serves as a guest editor for the online journal Ma’arav.
In 2014 I curated, with Eyal Vexler, a video exhibition and art event that dealt with freedom of movement. The video installations presented different perspectives on freedom of movement; music and dance performances reacted to the installations, and in the concluding panel we discussed various restrictions on movement in Israel/Palestine, physical, social and political. Since then, thought about movement and its political potential has been at the core of everything I do. Whether I am teaching yoga, curating an art exhibition or writing a theoretical text, these creative, radical political gestures arising from the junction of movement and restriction are always present. This was the motivation behind the Gesture Forum, which continued in the Border Patrol Forum, this is the subject matter of my article Resistant Movement, and in many ways, this is the thought behind the exhibition Small Sanctuary.
I’m interested in different perspectives on movement and performance and different variations of resistance: in art, in theory and as political action. The medium changes every time, but the motivation is similar, exposing these gestures, learning from them and transforming them into action in the world.