December 2, 2021

Michal Chelbin: ‘Make/Believe’ | Solo Exhibition at Chelouche Gallery Artist Residency, 2021

Michal Chelbin: ‘Make/Believe’ | Solo Exhibition at Chelouche Gallery Artist Residency, 2021

Curators: Nira Itzhaki, Nimrod Vainer

In Michal Chelbin’s new exhibition photographs from five series, which Chelbin has created since the early 2000s until these days, are shown. At the center of the pieces, young adults are apparent – the heroines and heroes of the show. Chelbin has portraited these during photography excursions in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Spain. Chelbin favors genuine characters over professional models to stand in front of the camera. She chooses with them the setting for the shot, a location that is familiar to them. At the filming itself, she asks them to portray themselves.

Michal Chelbin, 'Alvaro, Christian and Francisco', Spain, 2018
Michal Chelbin, ‘Alvaro, Christian and Francisco’, Spain, 2018

The protagonists wear outfits that represents a role or occupation. Wrestlers wear training suits tightly to their bodies, young cadets strung buttoned outfits, uniforms hang loosely to prisoners’ bodies, and flamboyant and anachronistic “Suits of Light” indicate the occupation of young matadors.

The characters’ facial expression is serious. They seem mature to their age. Yet, between the performative gestures and signs, a boyish sensitivity and fragility are present. All of Chelbin’s works in the exhibition share a focal point, a gap between the characters’ appearance and hidden truth.

Since the eruption of COVID Chelbin had practiced photography mainly in her immediate surrounding. The main course of her two decades of professional creation took place in different locations around the world. During these years she photographed for leading fashion houses, while presenting solo and group exhibitions in established galleries and museums globally. Today she is involved in joint creation with local artists, and several subjects of her next photography series will focus on local heroes and heroines.

Chelbin’s work can be found in many private and public collections, such as The Metropolitan Museum New York, LACMA, Getty Center LA, Jewish Museum New York, Cleveland Museum of Art, Tel Aviv Museum, Sir Elton John collection, SF Moma, and more.

‘Make/Believe’ is Chelbin’s first solo exhibition in Israel for more than a decade. Next to the photographs and Chelbin’s four artist books, the exhibition will include a “behind the scenes” videos, which Chelbin’s partner, Oded Plotnizki, has created, and a filmed interview by Nechama Yehoshafat.

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