Ellen Blumenstein is a notable independent curator, based in Berlin.  She is a member of the innovative curatorial collective THE OFFICE, which acts as a hub for explorations of various cultural collaborations at diverse locations.  She is also the founder of the Berlin Salon Populaire, a space where new kinds of cultural exchanges and formats are investigated.  As a prominent curator working at the vanguard of new forms of cultural production, she has been involved in several ground-breaking shows, such as The Human Stain at CGAC in Santiago de Compostela (Spain), 2009, and the Graduate Show at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam (2011). Between 1998-2005 she worked as a curator for KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin.

Ellen Blumenstein’s visit to Israel – her first – was characterized by high intensity excursions to Jerusalem and Ramallah, as well as Tel Aviv. The visit coincided with a host of art openings, including the opening of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art's new wing, the Jerusalem Show (in Jerusalem’s Old City, under the auspices of the Al-Ma’amal Foundation) and an opening in the Ma’amuta art space in Ein Karem, all of which she attended.  She met more than 30 artists, curators, architects and critics, as well as visiting Art Cube in Jerusalem, The Jerusalem Print Workshop, and more.

Blumenstein, for whom all this was a first encounter with the Israeli (and Palestinian) art scene, was impressed with the variety of the artistic production, as well as with the engagement with the “political.”  She noted that while the older generation of artists is working in this realm out of commitment to the state, younger artists are more concerned with the individual and his or her relations to the state.  Blumenstein found that the personal nature of artists’ engagement with politics takes on the flavor of a mission, and produces a constant need to respond to a volatile reality.  She noted that the resulting urgency puts a great deal of pressure on expression and creation, which overcomes the labor of refining the artworks produced.

Towards the end of the visit, The JCVA arranged a lecture at the Gordon Gallery in Tel Aviv, where Blumenstein discussed her curatorial practice before an audience from the local cultural scene.  She found the visit quite inspirational both as regards specific ideas for new projects and collaborations, and for the insights it offered her regarding her own work.