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Maya Roo
Maya Roo, 18, just graduated high school and is working on her art.Photography Tair Adato

Hanging out with a generation of Tel Aviv’s art kids

The ‘White City’ is bubbling over with youth hell-bent on changing the perception of Israel

Tel Aviv – dubbed Israel’s “White City”, due to its Bauhaus and Modernist architecture – has become the front door to underground culture for the Middle East. As well as a mecca for electronic music and nightlife, which has become a draw for many visitors, the city is an unlikely incubator for rebellious outsiders.

Maya Roo, 18, serves as the maternal figure of her group of artistic friends. She did an amazing series of self-portraits in the style of Cindy Sherman, positioning her as a young, talented artist, grappling with her sense of self-identity and self-discovery in a country where the national ethos was built on a socialist sense of togetherness and community. She disagrees with Israel’s compulsory military service and has opted to forgo the required three years of military duty on account of medical conditions. Arian Findel, too, disagrees with Israeli policies, yet it is the 19-year-old’s homeland and she feels a duty to stay there. She uses dance and body movement as her personal expression of artistic freedom.

Despite ongoing political conflict in the region, Tel Aviv thrives nonetheless as a bustling metropolis, although the one-sided nature of the war affords it that luxury. City dwellers often identify as “Tel Avivian”, and not necessarily “Israeli”, the same way Berliners and New Yorkers consider themselves as such. While these kids grow up amongst international conflict, it does not escape the influence of Western pop culture – Lana Del Rey, Britney Spears and Radiohead have all played shows there recently, despite criticism, with many believing that the country should be boycotted.

Although most kids are raised with staunch religious traditions and deeply entrenched morals, this doesn’t stand at odds with the contemporary lifestyle they choose to embrace. The clash of centuries-old history with some of the world’s most cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking startup industries has become a petri dish for creative youth who have one finger firmly on the pulse of what’s new and next. They live in a place that sees extremely divisive modes of thought and are rebelling against the traditional cultural, religious and political norms that their parents’ generation subscribed to. This is Tel Aviv’s new creative class.

Name: Maya Roo

Age: 18

Occupation: Just finished high school. Artist I guess, also modeling.

What do you love about Tel Aviv?

Maya Roo: The people and the scene. It’s just a very special place.

What do you hate about Tel Aviv?

Maya Roo: How small it is.

What was your childhood like?

Maya Roo: I was really obsessed with anime and Japanese culture in my early teens and also D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) and fantasy stories. I grew up pretty fast because of the city and only came back to those interests a while ago.

What is your favourite movie and why?

Maya Roo: Wild At Heart by David Lynch, because it’s everything I love in one movie. I love David Lynch and I love the soundtrack.

What is your star sign?

Maya Roo: Sagittarius.

Have you ever been in love?

Maya Roo: Yes, it feels like the most amazing and scariest thing ever, like you have zero control over your mind. I always think that love is always worth it.

Name: Arian Findel

Age: 19

Occupation: Dancer, waitress.

What do you love about Tel Aviv?

Arian Findel: It’s a small place, I like how everything is close together. It’s a mess but it’s cute.

What do you hate about Tel Aviv?

Arian Findel: They’re running out of areas to gentrify so it’s every few neighbourhoods and it’s ugly and making this city even messier.

How do you use the body as a means of personal expression?

Arian Findel: I’m a hip hop dancer. I make music sometimes and other fun art stuff when I’m not feeling lazy.

What is something you want people to know about Israel?

Arian Findel: Nothing really. Just that if you’re interested and passionately opinionated about anything here, you should always educate yourself because you don't wanna be discussing issues without actually knowing your facts.

What is your favourite movie and why?

Arian Findel: Sleeping Beauty (2011), because it feels like a really depressing dream through the whole film and I have those constantly so I relate.

Name: Tomer Romn Daunov 

Age: 20

Occupation: National Service and performer.

What do you hate about Tel Aviv?

Tomer Romn Daunov: The public transportation.

Who is your alter ego?

Tomer Romn Daunov: Daphne Guinness.

What characters do you dress up as?

Tomer Romn Daunov: It could be anything, from Marie Antoinette to a jellyfish.

What is your star sign?

Tomer Romn Daunov: I think it’s Aries but I don’t really care.

What is the Tel Aviv nightlife scene like?

Tomer Romn Daunov: For me, it’s a playground where I can do whatever I want.

What was growing up in Israel like?

Tomer Romn Daunov: It’s pretty intense to grow in a society that sanctifies militancy and xenophobia so you always have to know how to choose the people who surround you.

What artists inspire you?

Tomer Romn Daunov: Leigh Bowery.

Name: Tair Adato

Age: 22

Occupation: Photographer, waiter.

What do you love about Tel Aviv?

Tair Adato: The food.

What do you hate about Tel Aviv?

Tair Adato: That it is so small and everyone knows each other.

How did you get into photography?

Tair Adato: When I was 17, I bought my first film camera at the flea market and later I went to the army and got a job to be a photographer. It was not as easy as it sounds. I remember I felt so lucky! That was when I basically realised I knew how to take photos.

What is a perfect night out for you?

Tair Adato: When my friends dance and I’m not the only one on the dance floor.

What was your childhood like?

Tair Adato: We were a gang. Boys and girls of different ages and we used to find lost places and transform them into our second home, so we could stay there all day long and do things without our parents knowing. I really liked my childhood.

What is your star sign?

Tair Adato: Aries.

Who are some of your favourite artists?

Tair Adato: Björk, Mayan Toledano, Tyler, the Creator, Wolfgang Tillmans.

How does your cultural upbringing influencer who you are today?

Tair Adato: I come from a very primitive, religious family. All I’ve ever learned about art, I learned by myself from the world outside. That’s the reason I have become more independent in my life from a young age.

Name: Jonathan Carmel

Age: 22

Occupation: Fashion designer.

What do you love about Tel Aviv?

Jonathan Carmel: I love the people. Not necessarily the people that I know. I get inspiration from people and objects who are unaware of their own beauty. I love that.

What do you hate about Tel Aviv?

Jonathan Carmel: Eyal Shani’s restaurants. (But I go there all the time).

Would you like to be famous?

Jonathan Carmel: I would like to be recognised through my work. It’s amazing when people recognise me from my work without any signature.

How would you describe the creative scene of Tel Aviv?

Jonathan Carmel: I think that Tel Aviv is all about the music and the party scene. The techno scene is highly developed in Tel Aviv. The fashion scene is very small, but there’s a few people in Tel Aviv that live and breathe fashion. I want to shoutout Asaf Liberfrund who does whatever he can to resuscitate the fashion scene in Tel Aviv.

What is your star sign?

Jonathan Carmel: My star sign is Virgo. Virgo people are mild-mannered on the surface, but underneath there is a flurry of activity. Everybody keeps telling me that I have only one facial expression but underneath there is a salad of emotions. (Hebrew: salat shel regashot).

What was a defining fashion moment for you?

Jonathan Carmel: In retrospect, I believe that it was being a photographer in a compulsory military service. It was a formative experience. Covering a conflict zone, where I witnessed some troubling images, not only stayed with me but opened my eyes to the pain and plight of others. The exposure to difficult scenes has increased my awareness to the stories of other people. The freezing of a fleeting – yet powerful – moment drew me back every time I stared at the images.

How would you describe the style of Tel Aviv?

Jonathan Carmel: Tel Aviv people are all about partying and having fun. They are very fun to be with but when it comes to fashion there is nothing unique about the style of Tel Aviv because it is too hot outside! I don’t know why but everybody wears only black in the winter.

Name: Karin Kimel


Visual artist and model.

What do you love about Tel Aviv?

Karin Kimel: People, food, music.

What do you hate about Tel Aviv?

Karin Kimel: Sometimes I hate the fact that this city can feel super small. If you become a part of what’s going on here, you’ll know most of the people that exist in this city. As much as this can be nice, it can also get quite intense if you wish to go out and get lost.

How did you start creating art?

Karin Kimel: Growing up I was always creating and doing things in a very visual way. It’s hard to determine when it started, it feels like creating has always been a thing I just do.

How do you use Instagram as an online gallery?

Karin Kimel: I feel like Instagram became a platform that gives anyone with a smartphone a chance to represent something. So with that said, anyone can create a gallery of anything. I personally choose to post some of my art and sometimes random inspo there, but it's also a tool for me to promote my actual site which is   

Can you tell us about your online gallery? What are your dreams for it?

Karin Kimel: The KX2 gallery started as a way for me to keep track of my creation process. I felt a need to document my creations while sharing things I find inspiring. The fact that this gallery is public makes everything much more serious for me personally, knowing someone might see the stuff I post makes me feel responsible for this content. A dream related to the KX2 gallery is working with creative people I appreciate through this platform.

Who was your idol while you were growing up?

Karin Kimel: As a young teen I looked up to Francis Bacon and Jake & Dinos Chapman.

What is your star sign?

Karin Kimel: My star sign is Capricorn.

Would you like to be famous?

Karin Kimel: I don’t aspire being famous, I love having my personal life private. Though as an artist, I would want to get recognised for my creations.

What is the most romantic place in the city?

Karin Kimel: Jaffa.

Can you describe the spirit of youth in Tel Aviv?

Karin Kimel: Youth in Tel Aviv is super diverse. I feel like there are so many interesting characters here who have their own unique story