The exhibition The Sandal – Anthropology of a Local Style focuses on a single object as a guide to investigating “Israeli forms.” The presentation of sandals in the exhibition seeks to celebrate an object that has become identified with the place, to look at the artisans who make them and the people who wear them, and learn how two horizontal strips of leather became a clear and distinct form that has been revolving among manufacturers for over ninety years. And this, despite the constant change of technologies, consumers, and tastes. From the kibbutz shoemakers to workshops on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, via shoe factories in Hebron to a casting and sewing factory in Tirat HaCarmel-we will try to understand how a local style was forged and how its forms endure.
The choice of the Tanakhi or Biblical sandal comes almost as a cliché. Like the Tembel hat, the embroidered shirt, and the khaki shorts, it is one of the prominent items in the dictionary of local objects. This dictionary, attributed to the pioneers and founders and the later hegemonic layers of Israeli society, has a deep and broad influence. The formal dictionary builds the stylistic language of place, dictates its continuity or resistance to it, as well as its renewed versions.
The question of “Israeli style” comes up often in research on the history of local material culture. Style is the same structure placing society in the creative act of one individual and making it the creation of the public. The social law of the aesthetic is responsible for the creation of civilized objects. Without fixed and stable forms, style cannot emerge. In recent years, the Ata and Maskit brands have been resurrected alongside that of the Nimrod Company, whose retro collection is presented here. They create an up-to-date three-way conversation about the style they themselves originated. Like Ata and Maskit, the sandals too, show that Israeli style aspires toward simplicity, ease of movement, and comfort.