The Port of Tel-Aviv, in collaboration with the Municipality of Holon, are presenting “Dana International: The Exhibition” especially for the Eurovision Song Contest that will be held in Israel this year – and for two weeks only!
The collaboration between the Tel-Aviv Port and Beit Meirov Gallery in Holon will enable people who have not yet managed to see the exhibition in Holon, and the multitudes expected to arrive in Israel from all across Europe, to view this exhibition dedicated to Dana International – the diva that revolutionized the local and global pop culture and became a landmark cultural icon in Israel and around the world.
The exhibition at Pavilion 24 in the Tel-Aviv Port will open free of charge to the general public as of Friday, May 3 and continue until Saturday, May 18.
Dana International is far more than a successful pop singer. She launched a revolution in local and global pop culture. She emerged from the rebuffed fringes of the LGBT scene at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s after the Gulf War had ended and people in Tel-Aviv resumed their celebration of life with an unprecedented blossoming of new nightclubs – a decadent underground phenomenon that astonished Israeli society.
During the summer of 1992, Dana International sprang from this scene and onto the national media and radio stations with her first song Saida Sultana. Although the music establishment ignored and disparaged the song, it was embraced by the audience and became a hit that summer, and Israel welcomed a sensational new pop singer who not only boasts a slightly unconventional name, but also a new persona that Israel had not encountered until then. Dana was the first Israeli artist to speak courageously about her sexual orientation. Her bold and lavish costumes, her dancers, her candidness to say what nobody else dared to say, and her songs in Hebrew, Arabic, gibberish, English mixed with Yemenite, her body language that resonates with international music and culture and the headlines that shouted: the singer that is dominating the club dancefloors was, until recently, a man.
As a result of the unanticipated success of Dana International’s song, a small independent record company, AMP, offered to release a full album. Her stellar breakthrough into the mainstream occurred with her second album, with her hit songs Yesh Banot (There are girls), Ani Lo Yechola Biladecha (I can’t without you) and Nosa'at LePetra (I’m going to Petra); with her participation and second-place win in the Eurovision qualifiers in 1995; with her being named “Singer of the Year”; with her music clips that set a new standard in pop music, and more.
“I never dreamed that my career would reach such a scale,” says Dana. “I was taken totally by surprise that the audience and the people embraced me, unlike the establishment, in which even the old elite radio stations, like “Galatz” disparaged this type of music.”
After her third album in 1998 containing the hit song “Cinque Milla,” she was selected to represent Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest held in England and Dana won first place. From that point on, Dana took Europe by storm, taking the story of the early years of her career in Israel and replicating it, this time, on a global scale. Dana International is a transgender star who reflects ultimate femininity through her confident, sexy and unapologetic performances, costumes and public statements. She starred in Amnesty’s global campaign “Gay Rights are Human Rights” and became the uncompromising spokeswoman and defender of the LGBT community in Israel.
On the one hand, Dana is a traditional Israeli Middle Eastern artist who is continuing the illustrious dynasty of Yemenite divas – from Bracha Tzfira, Hanna Aharoni and Shoshana Damari to Margalit Tzan’ani, Hedva Amrani and Gali Atari and, on the other hand, she is considered a Western pop diva and the darling of the new Israeli hegemony.
Twenty-five years later, it is hard to imagine Israel without Dana – a singer who changed the face of Israeli society to a degree few others have been able to do and who has won the admiration of the masses, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social status or age. She makes statements in her songs that cannot be expressed in any other way – there are girls like this and girls like that ... there are new women who know that there is another type of sex ... she has a permanent trick ... love boy only twice a week ... she dreams about a man who will carry her in his arms to the plane and make her international.
Dana has released 14 albums, three internationally, dozens of hit songs and unique video clips. Dana International is a mainstay on the playlists of all-time favorite songs in LGBT clubs around the world, alongside “I Will Survive” and “It’s Raining Men,” participates in leading corporate campaigns, is a guest star in television series in Israel and globally, stars in children’s plays in Israel and, of course, is on center stage during the major gay parades around the world.
“It’s better to be hated for who you are,” she said during one of her interviews, “than to be loved for who you are not. I never intended to become a symbol, or banner, or example. People see in me what they want to – this has no connection to who I am really. My dream was to be a singer. Everything that happened beyond that was nothing that I had intended. I simply got caught up in situations.”
The creator and curator of the exhibition, Rafi Vazana, says:
“On a personal level, this is my tribute to the person who – also for me as an adolescent in Safad – carried the banner of accepting the other, and I knew that if someone like her appears on the most popular and beloved television shows on my TV, then apparently it’s okay. Dana, with her smiling persona, has always responded to every question directly and candidly, with openness and patience, which is not at all typical in the world of glamor and entertainment, and that is how she succeeded in winning the hearts of the entire spectrum of the population in Israel and worldwide and in leading a substantive social change in the distorted perceptions of the LGBT community at that time. The most meaningful change is the understanding that artistic talent can serve as an international language for transmitting messages, and that is what Dana and her professional teams understood. They encouraged singers and artists and producers and regular people to use the tools that this language enables in order to break down personal barriers within families and even international borders. I don’t recall a single instance in the contemporary Israeli cultural arena when something that was called a gimmick turned into an international icon at such lightening speed. At the beginning of the 1990s, those who called a colorful singer with daring hairstyles and costumes “a passing gimmick” or who went to an extreme and called it an “abomination” ... quickly understood that Dana International did it and in a big way. One can say that “Dana did it first” in relation to many issues, and the exhibition that Dr. Guy Morag and I created spotlights familiar and less familiar milestones along this long journey that is still underway.”
By spotlighting highlights of the diva’s career milestones, the exhibition invites viewers to take part in the meaningful social change that began in Israel in recent decades and prioritizes the pursuit of equality and human rights as fundamental values.
The exhibit displays fashion items and outfits from Dana International’s appearances in Israel and around the world, including: the dress designed by Yaron Minkowski that she wore for the 1995 Eurovision qualifiers, the dress designed by Galit Levi that she wore when she won the 1998 Eurovision, and the dress designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier that she wore for her performance after winning the Eurovision competition, several additional outfits designed by Galit Levi, Dany Mizrachi, Alon Livné, Rakefet Levy, Dodo Bar Or, costumes for the part of Cruella d’Evil in the production of the musical 101 Dalmations and more.
Also exhibited are such items as: the draft of the song “Diva” that was written by Yoav Ginai, the contestant’s kit for the 1998 Eurovision, gold records, certificates and awards, collectors’ items from the press, home videos documenting her travels around the world and memorable and beloved video clips from Israeli educational television and the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation, interviews and clippings, photo shoots and fashion productions from her private collection and from top Israeli photographers, including Ziv Koren, Ronen Akerman, Vardi Kahana, Rony Yankovitz, Daphna Dollinger Meirovitz, Eitan Tal and more.
In addition, the exhibition will display work by veteran Israeli artists and designers, as well as by new pioneering artists and designers whose work references Dana's persona and her contribution to local and international culture.
Friday, May 3: 11:00 – 15:00
Saturday, May 4: 11:00 – 20:00
Sunday, May 5 and Monday, May 6: 11:00 – 20:00
Tuesday, May 7 11:00 – 15:00
May 8 + May 9: closed
Friday, May 10: 11:00 – 15:00
Saturday, May 11: 11:00 – 20:00
Sunday, May 12 – Thursday, May 16: 11:00 – 20:00
Friday, May 17: 11:00 – 15:00
Saturday, May 18: 11:00 – 20:00