Dana Yoeli’s installation presents a personal interpretation of the historic Jewish narrative and Israeli contemporary Life – a reflection on death and memory.
The installation, based on a two-side system, presents at its entrance a massive, concrete, rocky relief that embodies a formalistic aesthetic characteristic of Israeli memorial sites as well as kibbutz architecture from the 60s . The rocky relief is anchored to a monumental white wall that divides the gallery into two spaces. Behind the stark white wall, which functions as a demarcation line, is an arrangement of pedestals on top of which miniature porcelain-like sculptures in differing stages of finish are displayed.
The miniatures sculptures are in keeping with the heritage of traditional European porcelain craftsmanship and , present scenes of nature’s devastation; wild beasts and dismembered bodies—a collection of horrifying tales of cruelty in which man is confronted and defeated by nature’s untamed power.
From a formalistic point of view, the installation embodies the tension between monumental sculpture referring to Israeli collective memory, ideology and solidarity and a foreign sculptural language of decadent and enigmatic decorative objects, filled with lust and passion.
The subject of the local aesthetic of the material arises: the austere roughness and coarseness of the exposed concrete typical of pragmatic 1960’s Israeli architecture represents the cold and reserved side of the piece. When contrasted with the rich, overflowing sensuality of the porcelain figurines, the confrontation invokes sensory vertigo.
The installation engages the resonant space between violence and beauty; the space in which fetishism and libido are expressed through systems of polarity. The refined technique and the aesthetic nature of the miniature sculptures disrupt moral judgment and facilitate the presentation of these obscene and grotesque scenes. Exotic motifs such as peacocks, elephant tusks, and African figures call up a yearning for unattainable beauty and sharpen the gap between that beauty and horror. It is a voyeuristic peek across the forbidden boundaries of fantasy and the unconscious.
The two sides of the installation create divergent viewing experiences. When confronting the monumental concrete wall the viewer finds themselves in a public, collective, rational space, whereas the condensed colorful and decorative nature of the miniatures, leads the viewer into an intimate space that is emotionally charged.
Leviathan leads the viewer through a sculptural system comprised of two contradictory languages while both grapple with the same extremes: death, bereavement and commemoration. This is an allegoric journey through Jewish and Israeli history, from past to present, embodying loss, tragedy and disaster alongside of the commitment to remember and to perpetuate it.
Sally Haftel Naveh, Curator