Q&A With: Sharon Toval curator and creator of the Digi-Arts Incubator in Israel


Born in Tel Aviv and educated in Toulouse, France, Sharon Toval is an independent contemporary art curator. Currenty he is simultaneously consumed by his completion of a thesis for a master’s degree in Policy and and Theory of Arts at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and constructing the digital incubator- Digi Art. An exceptionally groundbreaking intiative of the Royal Beach Hotel to protmote young Israeli Digital Artists, this digital art project is a state of the art addition to the Isrotel chain’s range of activities which aims at advancing Israeli art and culture. AND! On the 5th of February @ The Royal Beach Hotel, organized by Toval himself, the Animation Film Festival is launching!  Although insanely immersed in his prospering artistic endeavours, he took the time out to answer some questions for FAD

If you were not a curator what would you be?

A Renaissance Prince from one of the French countryside’s domains , owning a famous Salon de curiosités in my castle, or a male prostitute seeking to be constantly seduced. There is a connection between those two situations to my curator profession. I let you think of it!

Can you tell us more about the DigiArt incubator and how the project came to fruition?

Three years ago, I was approached by the owner of the actual Royal Beach Tel-Aviv Hotel owner, Mr. Menachem Oren. He offered me to purchase the art for the future hotel. I immediately refused, saying that I am a curator not a decorator. Then, after a period of several months and discussions, I met his daughter Shira Oren. We immediately clicked, and she started to tell me about her idea of creating a project to promote young Israeli Artists in the hotel. Within this conversation, we both developed the idea of DigiArt, the digital art incubator. We wanted to use the amazing spaces of the hotel and to dedicate them to contemporary art. Since my Master degree Thesis deals with the medium of photography, and since I think this medium today is on a critical hedge, we decided to choose this interesting artistic medium. DigiArt aims at promoting young Israeli artists working in digital media, such as photography, video, animation, and more. It aspires to expose these artists’ works both to the local and the international artistic discourse, while also contributing to the community and the culture of Israel. On each floor I curated a different photography exhibition searching to explore the limits and the status of photography today. Overall, including the rooms, we show more than 400 different artworks created by 18 talented Israeli artists.

Check out FAD: Israel Day 2 to know more: HERE

How did you know which artists to include in the digital festival 2014?

The world of animation is an underworld in the art world. I discovered that it has its own codes and values and animators acts like street artists, anonymous kind of behaviour. I understood that I have to meet an influent animator that will introduce me to some more, and so on. Every year, at the grad art shows, I watch these amazing animation movies that are forgotten immediately after the artist has finished his studies. The idea of the festival is to be the connection between the young animators and the general public. I wanted to defy the assumptions that animation is a childish art form. The films represent Israeli culture and contemporary realities, raising questions about animation’s relation to documentary and realistic representations. I chose the best films I think we got this year out of the leading art academies.

Do you think photography is an accurate representation of life?

There is no medium that can accurately represent reality better than reality itself. No! Photography, as well as painting or other medium are parallel worlds created from human beings living in one possible world out of many other possible worlds. If you think of it, a photography is just a piece of printed paper representing a fragment of moment frozen by the photographer. It is a printed piece of a fragmented and temporary perception of the photographer. So it cannot represent life, it can maybe represent a second of someone’s life, somewhere.

Who are the three most inspiring digital animators you have come across lately?

Difficult to choose of course, all the artists I chose for the festivals are very good. The most incredible ones are Or Barel with his incredible “Beat” animation film, Nadav Embon with “Talk about Samson”, Jack TML with “Sketches from Munich”, Amir Porat with “Marionette” and Tal Hadar with “lady number 4”. But there are some more in this festival.

Check out BEAT by digital artist: Or Barel

What is the biggest difference between digital art and fine art?

Human beings were always keen on categorizing their life. The taxonomy allows us to think we have a better control on our lives. It’s so false! All these art categories, such as “Fine”, Digital”, Visual”, are historic and change their definition with history. It’s like the term “classic”: what was classic in the 18th century is not what is considered to be classic today. “Fine art” today is not what it was two centuries ago. As a curator, who researches the medium and the transitional space it potentially creates between the artwork and the perception of the viewer, I could say that the “pixel” could be a major difference between “Fine” and “Digital”. I guess that not many years from now, it will change. The pixel will be a primitive history and “Fine” and Digital will merge. Time! Time! Time! This is the key issue here.

Any time any place, which artist or curator’s body you would like to inhabit and why?

Last month I’ve visited the amazing photography exhibition on Lucian Freud, curated by Lucian’s assistant David Dawson.  Whilst in Vienna, this exhibition along with Lucian Retro, inspired me to think what it could be to be Lucian Freud for one day! I would love to feel in hands moving on the canvas, his eyes catching the model, understanding his historic cultural background and how he translated it into colours. A curator would be definitely Harald Szeemann, to be the first real independent art curator in the world without maybe knowing it! To understand his modes of creation etc.


Courtesy of:  Lucian Freud Archive

What was the most intelligent thing that someone said or wrote about your work?

That I am a hybrid kind of curator.

A hotel as a venue for a digital art show is an interesting venue- why here?

If you think of it, hotels around the world, have huge amounts of unused spaces, walls, corridors etc. Why not using those spaces in order to promote young artists and enchant the eyes of the guests? That was the main idea behind our project. There are very few, maybe not more than 10 hotels in the world, that show contemporary art as part as a living art platform. Usually art hotels around the world – and I’ve visited some few – show art collections from their owners private collection, or a purchased art collection. Hotels like their art to be permanent and this is the difference with DigiArt. We are not only enchanting the guests but also a part of the cultural community of Tel-Aviv.

What’s next for you?

This year, I will finish writing my thesis and curate a very important exhibition around my thesis area of research: is there a transitional space between the medium in Art and the perception of the viewer? Could Art represent the transitory space it creates? I will try to research around the medium of photography since it is going through a historic transformation these last years, and I would like to stay and compare it to the traditional medium like painting.In the plans also, an important art project “The Tempest” which aims to artistically revive the Shakespearian play that was performed more than 200 times in 1939, at the Nowo?ci theatre in Warsaw, in Yiddish, by mixed Jewish and Polish actors. We will show the exhibition around the world, maybe a museum in London would be interested in the project?   Also, important to me is my new “Curator Studio” at the new Alfred collective art institute. I am moving there next week and it’s very exciting.Not to mention many other art project for DigiArt.

Check out another cool animation video “Happily Ever After’ by: Yonni Aroussi

To know more about The Digital Animation Festival go: HERE

Words by: VC and, of course Sharon Toval himself.




About VC Maurer

VC Maurer, is an aspiring art critic, columnist, and art journalist. With a dual degree in Art History and Religious Studies, she also obtains a masters degree in Curating Contemporary Design from London, UK. Currently she lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, BK.

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