Avital Geva’s Lifetime Achievement Award
The Reasoning - Presented by the Prize Committee:
We are hereby presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Avital Geva, for the entirety of his artistic endeavors – that culminated in the founding and leading - of the Ecological Greenhouse, at his Kibbutz, Ein-Shemer. Avital is an esteemed conceptual artist, who began his artistic work in the early 1970’s. As a graduate of the Avni Institute of Art and Design in 1970, and influenced by Isaac Danziger, Avital turned to experimental, radical, and innovative creation. In 1972, Avital initiated, together with artists Moshe Gershoni, Michah Ulman and Yechezkel Yardeni, the “Mezer-Meser” project.
There he created an improvised “regional library” by recycling thousands of books from the Amnir factory. These were scattered in containers between the Kibbutz, and the neighboring Arab village. In 1973, Avital presented at the Yodfat Gallery – fish with bonnets and ties. In 1974, “cow tongues” in a formalin filled aquarium, at the Artist House in Jerusalem. At the time, Avital also participated in conceptual art exhibitions: “Concept-Information” at the Israel Museum (1971), “Artist-Society-Artist” at the Tel-Aviv Museum (1978), as well as the “Boundaries” exhibition at the Israel Museum (1980).
At the beginning of the 1980’s, Avital disengaged from artistic establishments, and began to concentrate on a new endeavor: an autarchic, quasi-utopian compound. The Ecological Greenhouse, founded in 1977, began as an experiment laboratory for growing cucumbers, and gradually expanded to become a multi-disciplinary research and education center, that combines innovative agricultural experiments guided by scientists and professionals in the field, and social initiatives for communities in the region - with an emphasis on youths.
Throughout the years at the Ecological Greenhouse, experiments were conducted in fields of hydroponic cultivation of vegetables and home garden plants, combined with processes for growing fish. Agricultural and ecological solutions developed at the Ecological Greenhouse, continue to serve agriculturalists throughout the county till this day. The Greenhouse continues to draw diverse audiences: youths, adults, Arabs and Jews alike, and has become a center for art and culture, with a variety of artistic workshops.
Although Avital took a different path for some fifteen years, in 1992 he accepted an invitation from the Minister of Finance, Dr. Gideon Ofrat, to represent Israel at the Biennale Conference in Venice, with the “Greenhouse Model”. The challenging model presented, received widespread attention internationally, and is remembered as a climax of Israeli artistic presence at the Biennale.
From the very beginning, Avital Geva’s work challenged perceptions of the arts and their relations to realms of the social and the political. As such it also created opposition and controversy. Retrospectively, Avital’s declared disengagement from artistic establishments can be interpreted as an expansion of its boundaries. His work in recent decades in this respect, are a bold-imaginative, artistic undertaking that precedes its time internationally.
Geva is a pioneer of ecological art, that connects nature, science and culture – for the creation of new artistic concepts and language. For his profound and radical artistic contribution, as well as his personal integrity, social awareness and commitment, we hereby award Avital Geva the Lifetime Achievement Prize for 2013.