Salt of the Earth and Bride of the Sea Sigalit Landau
Curator: Anat Lidror 14.2.21-17.4
Sigalit Landau and Yotam From's exhibition at Givat Haviva speaks to the Jewish-Arab, Western-Oriental, masculine-feminine tension, encounter and possibility, in works deeply rooted in this country.
It seems that Sigalit Landau's work has never been defined first and foremost as political, and to a large extent rightly so: it motivates primary feelings and primary emotions intensely, it is art at its best, but in the end it is political, very much so. This may be due to the fact that in every work, exhibition or place she has made, Landau creates a world, creates a whole theme with a strong emotional experience, precise aesthetics, connections to layers, periods and works in art history, personal-human associations mounted on the same string, and Israeli connotations that remarkably also managed to cross the sea to the general public who meets them outside this country. Already at the beginning of her career, her art managed to strongly shake the pillars of the art world with its stubborn rationality, its dominant masculine authoritarianism and its great fear of the spiritual in art; a fear that, twenty-five years later, is finally starting to crack and shake. Sigalit Landau has a part in this. She brought a new, penetrating spirit, without fear; an art exposed, sometimes to the bone, small and large alike, not only in the physical dimension, in all dimensions, just like her. Landau in fact never stopped to challenge those forces but galloped forward in her circles; Circles that will appear more and more in her works with their initial, cyclical, meditative and complete form.
As someone who has exhibited in the most important places in the world and in Israel, what can the simple Givat Haviva offer her? It is possible that an encounter between her art and a living idea, a space, a place where people and cultures meet, live, learn and create together, for all the complexity involved. Perhaps even a look that creates a meeting axis between kibbutz / Negev / Jerusalem / Ashkenazi / farmer - Arab / Gaza resident / Jordanian / proletarian / manufacturer.
Thus, the space was made to hold works from different periods that usually did not appear together in the past, including small / large meeting points between the Western, European Jewish, and the Oriental, Middle Eastern Arab.
Givat Haviva is open to all audiences but consists as an organization mostly of kibbutz members and Arab citizens living in Wadi Ara.
Their roots are in Eastern European Zionist and pioneering Judaism, and in Arabism deeply rooted in the region; Two populations that remember the meaning of displacement and wandering, who carry it in their hearts.
In the intimate work 'Death of the Swan', the smells of oriental streets and memories of European jewelry are sculpted as a musical jewelry box playing to the sounds of The Swan by Camille Saint-Saëns. This work finds Givat Haviva at one of its not-always-talked-about meeting points, of two cultural extremes that are connected by a common moral and human worldview, which seems to be in need of a lifeline in Israel today more than ever.
The encounter of Givat Haviva and its vision with Landau's work, opens up unspoken questions and puts them on the table. For example, is the possibility of building a floating bridge between Israel and Jordan on the Dead Sea, a project that Landau saw as a potential for fulfillment, of interest to the residents of Wadi Ara, and in fact to the Arab citizens of Israel? At the same time, the recent peace agreements with Dubai, Bahrain and Morocco – how do they relate to Israeli Arabs? How will the inner space of the exhibition, in which nudity is a natural and present part, meet the audience of the Arabs of Wadi Ara, comprised of women and men, religious and secular, an older generation and a younger generation?
In the simple and intimate 'Barbed Hula' video, she is seen hula hooping with barbed wire on her naked body. The wire-made hoop injures her stomach with every turn of play and pain, while in the background we can see the wide and endless sea and horizon. 'DeadSee' is a complex and expensive video work, rare in its dimensions. Here, too, the artist is absolutely present; Thin, naked, as part of a chain of watermelons, bleeding at the end. Beauty and pain are experienced simultaneously in a cutting line that first faces the abdomen as it skips over the head trying to figure it all out. The meditative exposure works in the same way, at some moments open and opening and then naked and terribly exposed.
Another axis of the space is male-female. The female appears as Landau's body, as the absent body of Leah's character in her black dress, featuring the chain of women who played her part in the play "The Dibbuk" over the years, such as Hanna Rovina and others. It also appears as the image of the missing bride in a dress bleached by salt, and in the three women cutting the vanishing ground between the waves and the shoreline, on the border between the endless waters and the shore between Ashkelon and Gaza in her work 'Mermaids'.
All of these are contrasted with the male body represented in the movements of the workers in the pulse-raising olive harvest in Kibbutz Revivim in the Negev, with their laundered-spinning clothes in the work titled 'The Window', with the man who prepares kanafeh and with the boys playing a territory game in the sand with a knife, in the video 'Azkelon'.
The hands digging in the sand in the video 'Hands' are the hand of a man and the hand of a woman moving to meet each other without seeing, but with direction and awareness. This is where the gender, political and social junctions come together against the background of the voices of political figures, among them: Yasser Arafat, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, Ahmad Tibi, Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Barack Obama. Finally, a place is created into which colors can be poured, but cannot be erased.
She is not alone: There is a whole team behind 'Sigalit Landau'. This is a team of work, production and creation. Landau is first and foremost an active and working artist, as is the team she collaborates with. Yotam From, her partner and a wonderful photographer, is with her in everything. The exhibition, and in particular the photographs that appear in it, are his and her joint work. This exhibition is small yet large: space is limited, the layers are many.
You will find a flowing space of photography, video, sculptural objects and a large outdoor mural that will remain here, looking at Danny Karavan's Orchard.
Sigalit Landau's art is mesmerizing. It has the effect of what is beautiful and painful, that which is uncompromising in art yet insists on what is possible in reality. Within this possibility, also and especially in a country that features a wide cultural diversity, the hegemony and the identity politics can be replaced by a real door that will open. For us, in Givat Haviva, this is already happening.
Anat Lidror, Curator