A New Contemporary Art Exhibition Transforms Israel’s Ancient Caves 

Shai Epstein/Courtesy Ivo Bisignano

Italian artist Ivo Bisignano's first solo exhibit launches in the previously closed UNESCO World Heritage site. 

As many museums remain shut around the world, artists and curators are looking for creative ways to showcase their works safely. For some, that means going virtual. For others, like contemporary Italian artist Ivo Bisignano, that means finding the perfect outdoor backdrop.  

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Bisignano, who spent many years as a designer and art director for Vogue Italia with Franca Sozzani, has launched his first solo exhibition, Human Forms, at an incredible outdoor destination: the ancient Beit Guvrin Caves outside of Jerusalem. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has around 800 caves which date as far back the First Temple Period (that's around 112 BCE) and have been closed to the public for over twenty years.

Shai Epstein/Courtesy Ivo Bisignano

Based around his wooden sculptures of "human forms," as well as visual artworks and hand-drawn animations that span his decades-long career, the exhibition includes seven sculptures and five video-art projections created by Bisignano which have never before been shown. He picked the caves to create "harmonious tension between ancient and digital, the inanimate and the human."

"I wanted to install Human Forms in the incredible Southern Cave at Beit Guvrin in order to establish a temporary home for the work, but within a historic and archeological context within a historical and archaic context," says Bisignano. "In this case, the "museum" is the site itself."

Courtesy Ivo Bisignano

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The exhibit will also be accompanied by exclusive texts from leading art and creative luminaries, including Robert C. Morgan, Binnie A Dansby, Sir Peter Cook, and chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who's commissioned designs from the artist for his London restaurants. 

"To be with Ivo is to be in presence of a terrifically sensitive humanity detector," Ottolenghi's letter states. "Loneliness, loyalty, romance, pretense, fragility, exposure, and the frivolity of our existence are constantly examined. He could be whispering this in my ear whilst we’re watching Rossy de Palma on the screen, or he could be taking naked sheets of cardboard at six o’clock in the morning and by midday have an intricate human heart leaning on the wall, full of sparkle and humor and acute perception. Same gesture, different mediums."

Shai Epstein/Courtesy Ivo Bisignano

Human Forms is open to the public from now through November 1, 2020.