On the second day of our trip to Be'ersheva we visited the Monument to the Negev Fighters Brigade (Andartat Hativat HaNegev in Hebrew), known locally as the Andarta. It is a monument designed by Dani Karavan, one of Israel's most famous artists, in memory of the members of the Negev Brigade of the Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the Jewish underground army, during the British Mandate in Israel. 324 of the brigade fighters fell in the campaign to capture the Negev during the 1948 War of Independence.
The central tower of the monument represents the watch and water towers of the Negev kibbutzim that were under shelling during the war, whilst the pipeline tunnel is reminiscent of the channel of water in the Negev defended by the soldiers. The concrete sheet brings to mind the Palmach tent, and the trenches remind us of military communication trenches. Engraved in the concrete are the names of the soldiers who died in the war, the badge of the Palmach, diary passages from the soldiers, the battle registry, verses and songs. A serpent-shaped building symbolises the defeated Egyptian army.
In the centre of the monument is the memorial dome, where the names of the Brigade's fallen are recorded, and where the memorial light is located.
Hebron mountains and the Negev mountains. The feel of the whole place was stark but beautiful. Dani Karavan wanted to create a memorial that would not merely be a piece of sculpture, but would be a 'happening' in which the visitor could take part. You can climb all over and in between the structures, making it a place fun for kids. Nonetheless it remains a moving memorial site which offers room for contemplation.
An audio guide, provided in English and Hebrew at the foot of the hill, was totally worth listening to to understand the design aspects relevant to the history of the Negev Brigade. In addition, beside its historic meaning, the memorial is an important piece of art - one of the first environmental sculptures in Israel.
About the artist:Daniel (Dani) Karavan was born in Tel Aviv in 1930, son of Abraham and Zehava Karavan, both pioneers who immigrated to Israel in 1920. Abraham was the chief landscape architect of Tel Aviv from the 1940's to the 1960's. At the age of 14, Karavan began studying painting. In 1943, he studied with Marcel Janco in Tel Aviv and from 1943 to 1949 at the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem. After living on a kibbutz from 1948 to 1955, he returned to art. From 1956 to 1957, he studied fresco technique at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence and drawing at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. From the early 60's Dani designed scenery for theatre, dance and opera. At the same time he created site-specific environmental sculptures in Israel. In 1976 he represented Israel in the Venice Biennial. Since then he has been commissioned to create environmental sculptures around the world, has exhibited in various acclaimed museums and has received numerable international awards. He lives and works in Tel-Aviv, Paris and Florence.