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My Interview with Israeli Icon Dana International: on the new exhibition inspired by her career

The exhibit of Beit Meirov Gallery in Holon will be dedicated to Dana International – who revolutionised local and global popular culture, becoming a landmark cultural icon in Israel and around the world. Dana International is much more than a successful pop singer, she is a pioneer of today’s blossoming Tel Avivian gay scene, a strong representative of equality, a television star, and, most importantly, an ambassador for the kind of Israel not many know about abroad: the accepting, colourful, and open-minded country.

Since the 80’s she hasn’t stopped being thought-provoking, pushing the envelope while speaking courageously about sexual orientation, personal style, and untamed art. Her bold and daring costumes, her professional (and let’s be honest, super hot) dancers, and her fierce interviews have made her a true icon of our era. Singing in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, exploring all musical genres, and her 1995 win of Eurovision, led to her sitting on her throne, 25 years and running. The point is: it’s hard to imagine Israel without Dana. Thankfully, we don’t have to. In all respects, she’s here to stay. Here we picked her brain– and heart – on her career, community, and, of course, clothes. Read my interview with here for Time Out Israel.

What was your first reaction when the organisers approached you with the seed idea: Dana – The Exhibition? – “My first reaction was being totally surprised, and I was sure that I’m not even interested at all. I was thinking it’s more of a thing for people who are not with us anymore, or at least they’re a way different generation, like the ‘Shoshana Damaris.’” (The Queen of the Eastern musical genre of Israel, passed away in 2006 – the author).

Then what changed your mind? – “I just revaluated. I reminded myself that I’m not that young anymore, I have quarter of a decade of a career behind me, and I just told to myself: let’s go with the flow.”

How lucky that you kept so many of your outfits from the past. Where do you keep all this when they’re not at the museum? – “I feel bad to admit but I’m terrible at taking care of my outfits. All my clothes are laying around in the closet, some of them were destroyed by my dog, and there are some which slowly turned into dust. Only a very few managed to survive through the years.”

Your name has been linked to fame for decades – looking back at your past 25 years, wasthere any point you felt like “okay, that’s it, I’m moving to the countryside, and won’t do all the stardom anymore, I just wanna lay on the beach, and grow a veggie garden?” – “Well, definitely no for the vegetable garden part, but, surely, yes for all those moments when I feel the stress is making me feel like I want to run away. Just to leave it all behind, close myself in my little private world.”

How come you never escaped then? – “For every life choice there is a price to pay, and, overall, I can honestly say I feel grateful for all that I went through, and all that I achieved. And when will resting a bit fit into this plan? Probably some day in the grave.”

What keeps you going when you feel uninspired, or when you feel like despite all your work for the community things are getting rough for the Israeli LGBTQ scene? – “My way of seeing things is understanding that the glass is half full, and not empty. Of course, I’m not ignoring all that’s bad, but I prefer focusing on the positive things. I like thinking the LGBTQ community is on the right path.”

What’s your message to all the people who are wishing for Israel to become a place for equal rights for all? – “We need patience, we need to stick together, and the change we’re waiting for will arrive. The process is happening, but a revolution is not a matter of one-day-to another change, society needs its own time to shift.”
Be honest – is there any old outfit exhibited here you’d never-ever wear any more, and what do you have against it? – “There are, many – but nothing very specific, it’s more about the fashion that’s constantly changing. I’m guessing me and most of my outfits from 20 years ago would be misfits by now.”
You recently released a new version of Diva celebrating Tel Aviv Pride – are you planning on re-interpreting other early works of yours, or you’re focusing on brand new music these days? – “Actually, doing the cover was more a one-off-fun time,– I much prefer looking forward, to building new things in my work and my life, and letting go of being busy with the past.”

“Genesis” exhibition opens Sep 6 through the end of 2018. Beit Meirov Gallery, 1 Herzfeld St, Holon. Open Tue-Thu, 17:00-20:00; Fri-Sat, 10:00- 15:00

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