Earth to Earth

Uri Gershuni, Untitled (4), 2020-2022, black-and-white photograph, archival inkjet print, 5x7 cm (40x30 cm framed)

Uri Gershuni operates in the field of photography like a lightning rod of stories and the traces they leave behind. His work is a form of clinging to what will pass and fade away. The exhibition Earth to Earth features two series of photographs, centered on clouds, plots of land, and planes crossing the sky. The series […]

Come Crawling

Uriel Miron, Dog-Ears, 2017, stained and painted maple, 92x120x13 cm

Downwards Facing Dog In the studio stands a very large sculpture, bursting with color and joy. It has an orange tail with stinger held aloft, almost brushing against the ceiling, and an undulating blue body, and a huge red claw stretching forward, and another small, stout yellow leg, and a long green haunch. Each limb […]

But Why Do I Hear the Crickets, it’s Morning

On an autumnal Friday morning, about four years ago, when he was walking his twin children to school, Tomer Sapir’s daughter, Tamara, asked: “But why do I hear the crickets; it’s morning?” The question sounded to him like the vision of a prophetess who identified a disruption in nature, and echoed a dream he once […]

The Iron Road

Ira Eduardovna, The Iron Road, 2021, Two channel video installation, Duration: 22 min, Video still (2)

In her two-channel video, The Iron Road (2021), Ira Eduardovna revisits the night in which her family left Uzbekistan on its way to Israel, focusing on her memories as a ten-year-old girl from the farewell at the train station, which marked the beginning of a long journey. The artist reconstructs the train cabin from memory, returning her […]

Aviva’s Eye, Beuys Body

In his new exhibition, at the Bar-David Museum, Rahat presents charcoal drawings on paper and oil paintings on jute. In these works, the artist describes the influence of great international and Israeli artists on his works, inner world, and art.

FIRESTARTER

Assaf Rahat, From Series 'Daysleeper', Untitled (3), 2020, Ballpoint pen on paper, 29.5x21 cm

Are we facing a process of creation or erasure? Of subsistence or disappearance? In a series of intimate drawings, Assaf Rahat draws homeless figures, whom he meets on the city’s boulevards and alleys. The figures seem indifferent to their environs, indrawn, curled up to sleep on a bench surrounded by vegetation at the heart of […]

Folding Scenery

Nadav Weissman, Installation, Museo de la Ciudad de Querètaro, Mexico, 2022. plywood and charcoal, video mapping animation, Variable dimensions. Installation view (1)

Nadav Weissman’s exhibition, Folding Scenery, is a multi-layer installation of plywood sheets and digital projections snaking along the gallery walls and protruding into its space. Like a cut-and-pasted folded landscape, this jigsaw puzzle of physical and organic parts takes its forms from natural environments and the human body; creating a topographic view of invented territories. […]

The Slave Age

Following a global apocalypse, individuals from around the country gathered en masse for what appears to be an endless caravan, a procession without a clear purpose or destination–perhaps the sole reason for action in a hollow space that rejects any interpretation. Disdain for the notion that, within this huge, stifling order, someone–a person or a […]

Take Me Out of Here

Tal Shoshan, Take me Out of Here, 2021, Petah Tikva Museum of Art, Installation View (2)

Curator: Irena Gordon We step into a landscape which is an interior, a hidden space whose walls have been breached, revealing it in all its familiarity and strangeness. The space is inviting, drawing us in with its tactile sensuality, its formal richness, and the interrelations between the various objects within it. As we go in […]

Underground 2

Nadav Weissman, Underground 2, 2021, Birch, plywood and charcoal, video mapping animation, Variable dimensions Site-specific installation, Dana Gallery, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Detail (3)

Site-specific installation at Dana Gallery, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai Birch, plywood and charcoal, video mapping animation, Variable dimensions.

Slippery Slope

Smadar Keren Text for “Slippery Slope”, Beit Uri and Rami Nehoshtan Museum, 2021 ‍ Two series of paintings from the past year are at the core of Shai Yehezkelli’s exhibition. `Star of Redemption,’ a grouping of four works, each with a flawed star at its center, and ‘Slippery Slope,’ a trio of paintings that feature […]

Ballade to the Double

“Ballade to the Double” 17.3.2022-9.7.2022 Curator: Rotem Zuta. Ballade to the Double draws the viewer into a Connecticut train ride filmed over the course of a year. All four New England seasons are projected simultaneously, sideby-side, in a way that transforms our usual experience of time and landscape. The journey is seen from the front […]

ART B AND B | 9-12 Nov. 2020

Art B and B

Monday  at 8pm starts the “sleeping show” by “Protective Edge” group in the sleepy empty halls of the Tel-Aviv’s cultural institutions. You’re welcome to join us at Shaul Hamelech 19 BLV or watch the live streaming in the following link: https://vimeo.com/event/439630 ART B AND B From 9-12 November, the “Protective Edge” group undertakes renews action, […]

We are a Bound Family

“Tal Amitai: We are a Bound Family” | Tali Tamir

 

Between the “holly family” and the “bound family” separates, in the work of Tal Amitai, a safety belt and a slogan of the Ministry of Transportation.
Amitai attacks the question of the family – one of the central concepts in the Jewish culture and Israeli society, a concept that grows every year during the holidays and that is still a taboo – few, certainly in the field of plastic arts, have touched it on such a direct level.
 

Amitai moves around the “soft belly” of the family – the dinner table. She paints her father dipping in a soup bowl, floating between parsley crumbs. At his side her mother, immersed at the bottom of the bowl, under a pile of spaghetti in tomato sauce.
 

The mother and father are painted in a sleeping position, they might be floating or they might be dead.
 

Helpless they are positioned between the knife, spoon and fork appropriately set on the checkered tablecloth (the father) or on a floral oilcloth (the mother).The rules of the set table, the table manners and food, contain within them the entire family metaphor: not only the control means of the parents over the children through food and feeding, but also the predator-devoured relationships and the potential of destruction and oppression lurking, in every family, somewhere under the folds of the tablecloth and among the hidden layers of the subconscious. Cannibalism of inter-generation and inter-familial battle of power.
 

In a series of sculpted works done in the late 80’s and named “The family”, Daniel Zak portrayed the arbitrariness of the familial connection when he drew a thin metal line between a rancid drop of semen, undefined, and the image of a human fetus.
Amitai is much more blunt than he was: when she continues to walk on the thin line between the micro and the intended, she scatters kernels of rice (she actually paints the scattering of the kernels) on a Hebron marble plaque, found in almost every Israeli kitchen typical of the middle class, and from the kernel scattering the writing becomes clear: “We turned out fucked”.
 

The familial relationship mediated through the simple imagery of common food (which family does not eat rice and meatballs?) is revealed in its other facet and exposed as a complex and vulnerable system, seeping way beyond the daily chore of cooking.
 

Motifs of cannibalism, between parents and children, are known in the mythological dimension and we could mention the fear striking painting of Goya describing the god Saturn eating his sons. Amitai, in a Freudian-macabre spirit, more than a mythological one, turns the motif upside down and expresses death wishes and aggressive impulses directed at the parents. Amitai does not build a scenario of fear and terror but rather, confronts the myth of familial connection with games of chance and gambling like the Lottery and jackstraws: scattering the jackstraws is like scattering the human semen – random, arbitrary, uncontrolled – you need Lotto in life in order to win the big prize and in order to be born in the right family. “Luck is after you” – like in the slogan of the Lottery, quoted in one of the works.
Amitai gambles for luck out of the maze of the familial connection. She allows herself to untie the “safety belt” of the family and cast her own private lucky cards.
 

With Philistines

With Philistines | Avi Katz

Text for the exhibition “With Philistines”, Jule M. Gallery, Tel-Aviv, 2014

With Philistines (and in the exhibition: Samson [Self-portrait as], and also Self-portrait as a Happy Infiltrator): a declaration of ultimate otherness which is razor sharp and possesses the daring of a liminal painter, but is also crippled and even wide open to interpretation and castrated: the present absence of the beginning of the verse “Let me die”, as well as the echoes of these difficult times (many of the artworks in the exhibition were painted in the anguish of Operation Protective Edge) as well as an alternative reading that invokes the use of “philistine” as a moniker for those who show a crude contempt for intellectual and artistic values. Indeed, Yehezkelli's paintings offer a reversal of hierarchies that presume to distinguish between the proper manners of representation and the demonstrably outsider “bad painting”, which may affiliate him with that “omnivorousness” (to use the term coined by the sociologist Richard Peterson) – the highbrow crowd whose taste tends towards “everything…”

In his new paintings, Shai Yehezkelli continues to consistently develop a visual language of signs, which is multilayered, borrowed, and appropriated (from the The Birds' Head Haggadah to comic books and emoticons, from Stars of David to a cowboy with a cigarette) but also personal, veiled, and enigmatic. The viewer is invited on a journey of revelations that will somehow transform paint stains to shapes (the stain, claims Lacan, marks that which returns to the viewer from the painting, the presence of an object that cannot be seen). The act of painting celebrates a lively freedom of color and shape to the point of “excess” at times, but also presents its faltering and depletion.

In Yehezkelli's “presentation of 'self'” the painting becomes a chaotic container of sorts, into which conscious and subconscious forces are siphoned, in combinations riddled with irony and pathos (as a desperate attempt to produce emotion…). Yehezkelli's characteristic self portraits also have a deceptive nature, and rather than fixating self identity they are an expression of the dissolution of the identification of the “self”. The artist is an “entrepreneur of the self” (in the worlds of Svetlana Alpers). The multitude of self portraits (in the form of “self portrait as…”) expresses the game of changing masks, what marks the presence of the “act”, an “art occurrence” supposedly expropriated from the artist, an act that engenders a split of sorts between the portrait and the self that this portrait was supposed to transmit, and in fact embodies the dimension of failure to transmit the self that perhaps becomes “everyman” and at times “every Jew”…

This time, more than in the last exhibition, this carnivalesque art fair transgresses the boundaries of self that wallows in the pleasures of its despondency. From the introvert self to the world, to zeitgeist painting.
The works' titles do not “speak for themselves” but are a part of integrated art talk. Thus for instance, in the Monument for the Women of Shuja'iyya – a proposal for a monument of sorts, a woman lioness, an upside down IDF helmet that sprouts slivers of light, a noseless smiley, and another smiley that pops up in the layers of paint, winged like an angel of compassion from the top right, palm trees, Gaza-esque Guernicas (the junkyard of the global and Israeli history of art is not unknown to Yehezkelli). And next to it – The Picking of the Flowers – centralization in the hybrid figure and amorphous expansion into heaped chaos of signifiers that have multiple signifies: a bowed palm tree, a map that may also be a prayer shawl (Talit), a construction of an oriental landscape compressed in the left, a comb, an F bottle, and from the fauvist ground of amassed emoticons screams the death toll.

The two paintings of oriental sun, one happy and the other sad, imbue the exhibition space with a sort of atmospheric incense, suns which are eclipses, suns which are eyes, a watercolor pupil as a smiling face that will dissolve into an abstract stain in “sad sun”, where we find a happy palm tree … Onkelos from a bird's eye view that also resembles a palette, more than they exude life, these are disconcerting suns; the optimistic Platonist similitude between the sun and the eye, the metaphorical gaze at the sun as what leads to the purpose of the truth, a sublime step in the philosophical education ladder, is replaced by Georges Bataille who preaches to dare look at the anti-ideal, the dirty, with the blinding black sun, and like in the painting, the suns are also the eyeballs and the liquid is the tearing, the oozing, or the bleeding (this reoccurs in the painting Sunshine and Moisture and Self Portrait with Pogrom).
Pshat & Drash, drowners, a ship of fools, and a sail, a smiley wearing “a painter's hat”, a complicated hand, a floating piece of feces, a bird. An invitation to enter the “Pardes”.

(English translation: Maya Shimony)

Yad

Uri Gershuni, 'Untitled', 2007, color print, 30x40 cm

The title of this series is 'YAD', which has a double meaning in Hebrew, 'yad' means 'hand' but also 'memorial'. The series was photographed in Peter Eizenman's holocaust memorial in the center of Berlin.
Gershuni approached couples visiting the memorial and asked to photograph them. Gershuni landed his camera always to the woman and asked her to take a photograph of himself with her partner (boyfriend or husband). Just before the woman snapped the photograph, Gershuni took the other man's hand, thus the photograph was taken while they were holding hands.

Yesterday’s Sun

Uri Gershuni, Mr. Kronnagel (Bambi), 2009, inkject print, 74X54 cm, Framed 80X60 cm

Yesterday's Sun – solo exhibition at Chelouche Gallery

10.05.12 – 23.06.12

 

Poet Wisława Szymborska, in an imaginary conversation with Ecclesiastes, challenges him with cunning shrewdness: “There's nothing new under the sun… But you yourself were born new under the sun. And the poem you created is also new under the sun, since no one wrote it down before you. And all your readers are also new under the sun, since those who lived before you couldn't read your poem.”
The series of photographs featured in Uri Gershuni's exhibition—in itself, a contemplation of the notions of newness and sun in their photographic context—lacks the reconciled innocence underlying Szymborska's statement. It is imbued with an antithetical despair, and its conclusions transpire on the verge of an abyss, as it were. Gradually, however, their proximity will be revealed.
The exhibition seems to be underpinned by the realization that the sun that shines on us is, in itself, rather ancient, and that in an irreversible process which cannot be altered, it will evolve within about five billion years to a star unable to produce warmth and light. Sharp fluctuations in temperature would cause the sun to shed its outer layers, forming a planetary nebula moving around the nucleus of the shrinking sun slowly cooling in space. The sun too will cease to exist.
There is no artistic medium like photography so inseparably tied with the sun. Its idiosyncratic language is distinguished by its dependence on natural astrophysical processes originating in sunlight. When these processes are imprinted in the chemistry of the photographic paper, the photograph transforms into a perfect melting pot between the technological and the living, a contact point between man and the stars, mediated by a light-registering apparatus. The act of photography is a desperate attempt to fish out something illuminated in an infinite universe, to leave a hint of our being; the camera as a box for capturing tiny physical occurrences, the “Pencil of Nature” as per the ever so accurate title by the pioneer of photography, William Henry Fox Talbot.
Gershuni's photographs appear as though they have been created in a world struck by a process of extinction, under a disappearing sun and its gradually waning light. His journey to the village of Lacock in Wiltshire, England—Talbot's hometown—which spawned these photographs, essentially calls to mind worshippers swarming holy sites on the eve of an apocalypse.
The photographs in the exhibition document Talbot's habitat as it appears in the present. Some of them contain objects and places which were the subject of the first photographs in history. Gershuni's new photographs blend with the memory of Talbot's photographs—especially the oriel window at Lacock Abbey, the earliest known surviving example of a photographic negative and a photogenic print—like a chemical collision between beginning and end. It is as though in Gershuni's fusion of his photographs with the memory of Talbot's photographs, we witness a nuclear occurrence, a catastrophe which melts epilogue into prologue, while everything between them burns and melts away.
Had the universe suddenly reversed the direction of its expansion, it would have turned backwards, toward the Big Bang, and disappeared anew into the void. Gershuni does exactly that: a deep despair with photography's ability to innovate and excite, as well as thoughts about the dying sun on which photography as a whole is dependent, have motivated him to embark on a journey back to the starting point, to the realms of the “Big Bang” that gave rise to the pristine act of photography, perhaps in an attempt to be swallowed up by it and disappear into a black hole.
To prove that only the moments in which things—universes, planets, or human beings—are born or die has any meaning, Gershuni proposes to erase and destroy everything ever photographed, except for the first photographs ever taken by man; to try to assimilate into them so as to experience the sense of revelation embodied in Talbot's work, which is still concealed in his photographs. Subsequently, one must die out with the sun, never to photograph again.
Much has been written about the “devalidation” of the photographic act in this overly mapped era which is inundated by images. It seems, however, that Gershuni not only laments the devaluation of photography; he also dares to do what other photographers don't: to catalyze and to be present at its very moment of execution, while voicing a great cry of despair.
Gershuni's journey to Lacock is like a pilgrimage to a shrine to experience or see something that Talbot saw, before the end comes. A closer look at what Gershuni saw there in the moments of truth, however, reveals a less terminal answer than we might have expected. Despite the morbidity and the attraction with cessation simmering in the black, grainy photographs on view, they secretly emanate a wonderful yet silent hope. The first photograph in the exhibition features Talbot's tombstone. While at first sight, it is an image which declares the death of the inventor of photography, and with him, perhaps, the death of photography as a whole, and as such it invokes a sense of bowing to dead ancestors, on second thought it is also a photograph featuring a sculptural object made of a durable material which symbolizes the death of a man, while the stone itself lives on.
Thus, in his very first photograph here, Gershuni declares the ability of a given substance to survive long after the materials from which our bodies are made. The series of images continues; From the dark surfaces of his photographs, trees, stone paths, ancient gates, bridges, tables, and latticed windows float out—an assortment of objects that existed before Talbot's time and continues to exist years after his death.
Do these photographs, despite the withering images of mildew and damp and the bubbling, burnt photographic paper, in fact symbolize survival, subsistence, attesting to Gershuni's secret belief in the chance to be saved? Perhaps even a belief in a form of new life after the end of days? If an object, a piece of furniture, a structure, or a plant, can survive and still leave an indelible impression of the person who created it or came in contact with it, even after the latter's death, can not an art work do the same?

 

Gershuni's renewed belief in photography's ability to form a memory, a material incarnation of a former life, erupts from his surprising photographs of a human figure—Mr. Kronnagel—whose gaze is penetrating and direct. While observing the photographs depicting objects – which are akin to an invocation of ghosts – is disturbing; knowing that they are unaware of us observing them, as if we didn't exist, and they are oblivious of us since they will long outlive us, Mr. Kronnagel is well aware of our presence; he knows that we breathe on the other side of the camera, hence he constitutes an image which is all a living, breathing, present presence, much more than the sacred past around him. Thus he deserves to leave behind photographic evidence of his existence.
Now behold the photograph of a vehicle moving swiftly in a field (perhaps it is an ambulance, hence an image of resuscitation?), implying more life within the desistence, life moving from here to there, eternally frozen by the camera. When has a photograph last elicited such basic excitement in its ability to intervene with the flow of time and treasure life in light?
Talbot and Gershuni are indeed absent from the photographs, because in their destructive encounter both have been annihilated, whether physically or metaphorically. But photographs of other people, akin to survivors from a disaster zone, bespeak a life found which is yet to be documented, and life yet to be documented is nonetheless a belief in something new under the sun.
Gershuni has fulfilled the most basic commandment of photography: to offer evidence of the photographer's journey, whether inward or outward, into the distance; to constitute proof of the photographer's discoveries and revelations, whose photographable texture he perpetuated for us. Had every person been given the unique chance to travel in time, his choice, whether to move forward or back, would greatly attest to his sources of curiosity, his beliefs, and his hopes. Gershuni chose to travel back in time to the nascent moment of the photographic medium, which is also the beginning of its expiration, hence a point of destruction. He plunged into a dark, suicidal crisis of faith that had taken over him, and looked straight ahead. He experienced within himself powerful moments of contradiction, a split between the believer and the heretic within him: Is there an “afterlife”? Is eternity photographable? Is there anything left in this expendable world worthy of being photographed? Is there a merciful Great Father capable of explaining our disappearance from the world virtually without leaving a trace? And if the moments of birth and death are the essence, is it not vital that we meet the propagator, who is supposed to die before us infront of our eyes, at the moment of his death?
Gershuni's photographs are like souvenirs from a voyage to the end of the world, taken by a believer who has lost his path and now tries to find it again. He has found it in the masturbation photograph: Even if it might appear like sacrilege, as defiance against “wasting of one's seed,” even if it celebrates the carnal, the flesh, the corporeal, the expendable, this photograph is nevertheless blended with a different spiritual sanctity, the sanctity of the blessing of the Sun and Sight: “One who sees the sun at its turning point, should say blessed is he who reenacts the works of Creation”. Because we are observing a new man before us, under the sun, in a moment of vitality.

Sometime in 1839—a temporal view which is emptied of meaning vis-à-vis infinity—Talbot exposed a negative to the sun. All of a sudden, light was rendered dark and black, while darkness transformed into whiteness. That Gershuni discovered under yesterday's sun.

____________________________________________________________________________

Amir Kliger
 

Exhibition text – Hebrew

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