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Expo 67: a ‘unique and fun glimpse’ inside a historic pavilion

Concordia’s Azrieli Institute celebrates the 50th anniversary of the world’s fair
May 15, 2017
By Elisabeth Faure

Concordia’s Azrieli Institute for Israeli Studies is marking the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 with a symposium and exhibition focused on the Israel pavilion and its historical impact.

The two-day event, on May 23 and 24, features international scholars and experts from a wide spectrum of disciplines.

“We’re happy to welcome the Faces of Israel at Expo 67 Conference to campus,” says Concordia’s president, Alan Shepard.

“In many ways, world fairs are time capsules, a showcase of the highest peaks of human innovation across cultures at a particular time in history, and a glimpse of our aspirations for the future.”

Csaba Nikolenyi, director of the institute, first started thinking about the project while on sabbatical last year at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“I had a lot of conversations about plans and ways to mark the 50th anniversary,” says Nikolenyi, adding that the world’s fair happened at a crucial time in Israel’s history.

Once back in Montreal, Nikolenyi met with Loren Lerner, professor of art history in the Faculty of Fine Arts, to get the ball rolling.

“Once she lent her enthusiastic support and visionary resolve, I knew we were in business!”

‘A unique glimpse into the 60s in Montreal’

The final program includes a talk by Eran Neuman, director of the Azrieli Central Archives and Israeli Research Center for Architecture at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. There will also be an exhibition of artifacts and archived materials curated by Lerner’s graduate student Alyssa Hauer.

The exhibition centres on the extensive personal archive of Sara Riesman, one of 13 hostesses at Expo 67’s Israel pavilion. She now lives in Montreal.

Riesman will be joined in conversation by former fellow hostess Kaya Deckelbaum.

“Attendees will get a unique and fun glimpse into the 1960s in Montreal and an insider’s view of Expo 67 as it was experienced by two young Israeli hostesses,” says Hauer.

‘A milestone’

Riesman says she is a bit nostalgic about the exhibition. She recalls Expo 67 as a very exciting period for Montreal and one that allowed a few million people to acquaint themselves with a very young state of Israel.

“Half a century is a milestone. Both Montreal and Israel experienced drastic changes in these decades and have become much more sophisticated and multicultural.”

Nikolenyi says this exhibition demonstrates that the ties Israel and Montreal formed in 1967 have only deepened over the ensuing decades.

“Communities and societies that cherish knowledge, art and science can be miles and continents apart. But their shared values of progress and education as well as their shared commitment to human progress keep them intimately bound and connected.”

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Concordia’s Azrieli Institute for Israeli Studies.



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