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Concrete Creek 1999-2002 -

Matan VilnaiIsraeli Minister of Science, Culture and Sport

The artist’s relationship with the world, the environment and reality has always been one of simultaneous rejection and attraction. Refusing to accept the world as it is, through artwork the artist attempts to create an alternative universe vis-à-vis the existing reality.

Vincent Van Gogh once said that “God must not be judged on this earth,” adding that “the world is a study of God which has turned out badly.”The artist attempts to rectify that study which had not succeeded, but this is almost always done indoors, in the studio.

In the Valley of Elah, where David went into a seemingly lost battle against Goliath and defeated him by the power of faith, Shai Zakai has embarked on an equally impossible battle of her own against habit and routine, impassivity and indifference – and brought salvation to the Etziona Stream.Israeli Minister of Culture Science and Sport write about - Concrete Creek - 1999-2002 by Shai ZakaiIt was not only an act of cleansing a stream, but also an intricate creative act; not only an ecological process, but also a social process of raising the awareness of those who had contaminated the stream in the past, but now were participating in its reclamation.

In this process, Zakai played the role of the artist, whom she perceives as a “social worker,” a catalyst of awareness and involvement, as well as a healer of a society that pollutes its world.The Concrete Creek project attests to eco-art’s capacity to bring about change in Israeli society.

I call upon my fellows, artists of Israel, to follow in Zakai’s footsteps: to invest of their time in environmental issues, and in their unique way raise awareness in Israeli society of ecological problems.In order to ensure the efficacy of this call, organizers must be open to including artists on planning, conservation and reclamation teams, and must be willing to apply their creativity and social perspective to projects that would have an impact on society as a whole.

For me, the greatest milestone in Concrete Creek was the introduction of a multi-faceted dialogue, an exchange between artist, scientist, citizen and establishment toward joint efforts for the environment.Collaboration between artists and scientists – two quality groups with which I have had the pleasure of a close acquaintance ever since I was appointed Minister of Science and Culture – is simply called for.

These two communities possess a sense of social responsibility, and both strive to bring about change in society and the world. Together the changes they could make would be considerably more significant.The Concrete Creek project must not remain one of a kind initiative. We must find the necessary resources for additional artistic projects geared towards the environment, while harnessing the experience of the Israeli Forum for Ecological Art chaired by Zakai.

Thanks to Shai and to her many co-workers in this wonderful act of creation. See you all again on the next project!