“she appears to be a rare case of ‘jack of several trades, master of most of them’”
— Massimo Ricci on The Squid’s Ear
Full of humour and provocative sonic invention, Israeli composer and sound-artist Dganit Elyakim focuses on various aspects of the human and digital paradigm. Through MIDI protocols and algorithmically based behaviours of the computer-performer she confronts the human musician with a digital based reality. Often applying electronic processing to acoustic instruments, Elyakim blurs the boundaries between the human and the machine. By means of this, she manifests the tension that is created by confronting the two and turns the distinction into a dialogue through which a unity evolves. Although Elyakim has emerged as an avant-garde composer, her influences range from classical and jazz music to metal and punk. Over the past few years she has also been integrating the Net’s audio archives into her compositions, creating colourful sonic collages that appeal to our contemporary collective memory and reflect the media’s accumulating quantity of information that is published on a virtual space.
Elyakim was awarded the Israeli Prime Minister’s Prize in composition in 2011. Her impressively diverse oeuvre includes chamber, vocal, and electroacoustic compositions, as well as music for theatre, dance, new-media and video. She displays virtuosity both in her composition and her performance skills, which include playing on electronic devices she programs herself as well as piano and performance art.
As a unique voice in the international contemporary music scene, Elyakim’s music has been featured at the Gaudeamus Festival (Muziekgebouw), Steim, Stichting Centrum and Het Nuthuis in the Netherlands; Kölner Musiknacht in Cologne; Tel Aviv Museum of Arts, Hateiva, Felicia Blumenthal Music Center, Tmuna Theatre, Zimmer, Kalisher Art Academy and Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv; Rebecca Crown Hall, The Chan Center of Performing Arts, Barbur Gallery and Hama’abada (The Lab) in Jerusalem; Hecht Museum in Haifa; Dunia Cafe in Istanbul; Koma Festival in Belgrade; Cicada Consort Festival in Alabama; Spectrum in New York City, and many more venues across the globe.
Frequently full of political messages, Elyakim collaborates with a wide range of artists, such as musicians, poets, video-artists, directors and choreographers. In 2014, she created a large scale sound installation for “Paradise Lost”, a non-linear multidisciplinary interpretation of “Prometheus Bound” by Aeschylus, directed by Lilach Deckel Avneri. The work won an award for the best play in the International Fringe Theatre Festival in Acre(2014), where Elyakim was also awarded for the best soundtrack. During the same year, Elyakim composed the sound track for “The Soft German”, an art film directed by Nadav Bin Nun reflecting the metamorphosis of ‘the third generation’ in Israel – from victims to aggressors. The movie won the award for the best independent film in the Cinema South Festival and was presented around Israel as well as Europe. Her most recent collaboration (June 2016) with performer and director Adili Liberman, “Hysteria Shows – a museum of living pathology” follows Charcot’s abusive treatments in Salpêtrière Hospital. The music involves guided improvisation for various tuning forks (one of Charcot’s neurological research tools), and real-time electronics, performed by Elyakim. The show was been premiered in Intima-Dance Festival. In “Keresh” (2011), a collaboration with the choreographer Ronnie Heller, Elyakim designed a sound installation composed of the different sounds that Heller produces from a simple plank. Through electronic processing, these sounds are transformed into natural elements such as raindrops, wind and fire, producing a sound-scape set to an empty black stage. Other collaborations include Memento Fluidos – Memento (2014), a live soundtrack for a video by Bracha L. Etinger, composed and performed by the internationally renouned voice-artist Anat Pick, soprano Rona Israel and Elyakim (real-time electronics); iWoman (2014), a collaboration with choreographers and performers Shlomit Fundaminsky and Einat Ganz, commissioned by HaTeiva; Shlulit (2009) video-dance by Thalia Hoffman, commissioned by Mamuta Art and Research Center; Still Winter(2008), video-art by Daniel Tchetchik, premiered at Raw-Art gallery, Tel-Aviv.
After conceiving the web-operetta “Laws of Reflection” (curated by Yaniv-Yehuda Eiger at Gellery 1024, the Israeli Internet portal Walla!), which was praised as “an extraordinary and moving development [in music]”, Elyakim founded the net-art collective “Turing Dames”, alongside the poet and media artist Eran Hadas and the visual and media artist Batt-Girl. Their works have presented in museums, galleries and festivals such as Ars Electronica (Linz), Print Screen Festival (Holon), Tel Aviv Museum of Art and the Science Museum in Jerusalem.
In addition, Elyakim is the founder and curator of the concert series “The Unbearable Lightness of Coherency” (supported by the Yehoshua Rabinovich foundation for arts and the Tel-Aviv Yafo Municipality), at HaTeiva in Tel Aviv, featuring “some of the most adventurous musicians from the local scene”. The series incorporates sound-poetry, voice artists and contemporary compositional approaches to present-day poetry.
Over the years, Elyakim has been a lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Arts , the Open University, Alon High School, as well as a guest lecturer at the University of Haifa, the University of Tel Aviv, the Cinematheque of Tel Aviv, the 16th annual convention of the “Israel Internet Association”, the Centre for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv (CCA) and Musrara School of Photography, Media and New Music. She also appeared as a panelist on the topic of digital music at IDC Herzelia and the Cinematheque of Jerusalem. During the years 2008-2010, Elyakim served as the chairwoman of “Israeli Women Composers Forum”, a feminist non-profit organisation whose aim is to promote women composers and integrate them into the Israeli music scene. She was a featured composer on Radio Halas at the Israeli Centre for Digital Art, Kol Hamusika radio station (Israel), Radio Horizon (Johannesburg), Eburg Radio (Washington), Radiophrenia Festival (Glasgow) and others. In addition, she published various articles on electronic music as well as music and politics in the Israeli magazine for music and culture “Tav+”.
In 2016, Elyakim has released her debut album, “Failing Better”, on Aural Terrains. The album was hailed as being “highly original and always inventive” (The Free Jazz Collective). It features notable musicians as Noa Frankel (alto), Teodora Stepançiç (piano), Yoni Silver (clarinet), Ronald Boersen (viola) and Haggai Fershtman (percussion).
Born and raised in Tel-Aviv, Israel, Elyakim holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees (summa cum laude) in music and philosophy, composition and electronic music from The University of Haifa and The Royal Conservatory in the Netherlands. During her time at Haifa, she was awarded a two year scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. She has studied with renowned composers Arie Shapira, Eitan Steinberg, Martijn Padding, Gilius van Bergeijk and Clarence Barlow.