Chapter 3 Taming the Levant: Reflections on Zionism, Orientalism, and Depictions of Tel Aviv-Yaffo in Israeli and International Comics

In: Imagined Israel(s): Representations of the Jewish State in the Arts
Ofer Berenstein
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Looking at various Israeli and international comics works from pre-independence proto-comics to current mainstream and alternative graphic narrative works, this chapter wishes to understand how the role of Tel Aviv as the “first Hebrew city” is visually manifested, and what, if at all, are the differences between the contributions of local and international artists to the collective memory of the city and to its visual representation. To achieve its goal, the chapter tracks and reviews depictions of Tel Aviv landmarks, architectural monuments, cityscapes, and urban-life scenes from various works, by various artists and in different genres, spread between the late 1930s to the late 2010s, in an attempt to understand what elements make the city of Tel Aviv so easily identifiable. Through this review, the chapter will demonstrate how the image of Tel Aviv is composed of depictions of its early days as a “garden city,” of its “White City” international (Bauhaus) style era, and of the modern metropolis that it has become, riddled with skyscrapers and towers. Special attention will be given to artists’ searching of personal or private spaces and how glocalization supported the changes in the city’s image over time. Finally, a separate section will consider the cultural, political, and visual tensions between the representations of Tel Aviv as the face of modern Jewish Israel and of Jaffa as its ancient Levantine past and the broader sociocultural contexts it brings forth in works of Israeli and international artists.

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