Dance of Sanity
Contemporary Perception of Complex Realities
The exhibition showcases a body of work by graduates of various art institutes in Israel, including: Oranim Academic College, Haifa University, Minshar School of Art, Betzalel Academy of Art and Design, Hamidrasha – Beit Berl College, The Art Institute at Tel-Hai Academic College, WIZO Haifa Academy of Design and Education.
One major possibility for hope these days is turning the public eye to the viewpoint of young artists, who belong to the next generation of leaders, and who could serve as significant trailblazers in the field of art and become the next voice; the one that grew in the reality of the past twenty-thirty years in Israel.
'Dance of Sanity' deals with our need to move out of existing reality, our yearning to dance rather than fight, and to create one inclusive reality. One reality, even if complex, is better than the necessity to live a variety of realities with endless internal contradictions. The exhibition presents the dance of those who insist on finding an island of sanity, a lighthouse, a beacon of light towards which one can move.
The exhibition examines perceptions, projects and outstanding artistic endeavors among graduates who focused their work on subjects of self-determination, identity, social ideology or criticism, and the definition of what is commonly human.
The body of works in the show is comprised of three levels:
First, a personal, specific, individual view, which can be more broadly applied. Second, a holistic social view of power relations (between the system and the individual or between groups, i.e. men and women). Third, seeing what is commonly human and above any definition, classification or group affiliation.
This body of work is concerned on all levels with the human and its desperate condition, with the spark of life and hope and the danger looming above it. It observes the here and now through numerous lenses, directing a telescope into the future and having a say.
This is a complex body maintaining constant tension between its different parts, even if they exist side by side and comprise one whole. This tension exists between a critical outlook on the status quo, in order to deconstruct it; the persistent attempt to construct an identity; and the pause resulting from a moment of rest in the shadow of everything commonly human. This enables building something together, based on diversity.
The gender ratio in the exhibition is 100:0. One could deduce therefore that this is a feminine show. However, this is the outcome, not the initial plan. The show recognizes itself as having feminine qualities. It is a show of art created by women. Is this feminine art? Does art created by women have more prominent features that indicate a desire for something in common? These questions remain open.
In these days when citizens of this country finally raise their voices demanding to put an end to extremism, incitement and hatred, we need to lift up our heads and direct our gaze at many fleeting realities that escape our attention. Such a gaze can include the experiences of pain, frustration or irony inherent to those realities, yet it also sets a starting point enabling us to grow into a shared future. Understanding the Other, their pain and their humanity, are essential tools for creating the basis for sustainable peace.
Anat Lidror , Curator
Director of Givat Haviva Collaborative Art Center
About the works:
Morjan Abu Diba presents a tricolor piece – 3 photographs, untitled, color print on paper, 35 x 50. She photographs identities of light that are herself, exploring self-definition through light, time and length of exposure, and playing a game inherent to the medium (photography) where many moments of reality are created upon one background. The movement of light is registered on the paper with all its beauty, but the light is a kind of emergency one: an emergency lamp, a flash, steel wool, a flashlight, or the headlights of a car. "There are two worlds within me, the Arab village and city life and art; they both exist simultaneously, in the same moment." (Morjan)
The viewer is left with a sense of multiplicity that cannot exist, yet it does. This is a self-portrait of a complex reality, asking how can the individual live in such a multi-layering of conflicting identities. What are their limits? Where does this woman begin and end?
Salma Korbi in her work Caterpillar Man (playdough on wood, 60 x 120) shows a figure of vague gender, with a questionable dominance of its head, with many bodies. Caterpillar Man brings forward the transparent personae of the self, the person that society and the person themselves sometimes prefer not to see and not to show. It is a distorted figure with a human head and the body of a caterpillar, with no clear gender or age, possibly a fantastic creature. Its head is turned upwards, and its armored body is heavy, perhaps even humiliating. Her loneliness and the clash between her own self and the outside world with its threats, include the fear of anomaly and exposure to society. Salma is an Arab-Jewish-Argentinian woman. She is considered a Jew by Arabs, and an Arab by Jews.
Shada Zoabi in her piece Small World (combined digital drawing, 134 x 140) considers the possibility of changing identities. Why does she harbor this desire? What does it enable her to do? And, most importantly, to what degree does our external appearance dictate our perception of the other, particularly in the 21st century where there are so many stimuli that force us to make quick decisions based on such a primary impression. Shada created her own technique which produces a realistic image from thousands of tiny color stains that she diligently paints next to each other with Photoshop on an existing image. In a series of self-portraits she pretends to be other women, changing her appearance like the painting technique pretending to be photography. In the portraits, she reveals her secret through careful observation. The image is constructed and deconstructed simultaneously, depending on the viewer's distance from the work.
Tal Orot Hacohen shows Pipe (oil on plywood, 58 x 70, 122 x 166, 79 x 119), a series of works featuring untouched man-made scenes. She repeatedly draws her way home from Tel-Hai to Otniel, a settlement in the West Bank. She draws the unending, disquieting road, a road she cannot leave for a moment, nor stop along the way. The road has a clear objective, which is to get home, to the safety of her four walls. In this way, she allows herself to travel the forbidden space she is trying to penetrate. Tal moves between this present, existing, real space, and the illusionary one, the dreamlike space that only wants to be – simply, peacefully.
Marach Zoabi's video work, Ahmad and Dib (04:39 min.) relates the double wish to leave and to stay, to be and to escape. It is the memory of the story of the expulsion to Lebanon of her grandfather Ahmad and his brother Dib in 1948, and the separation along the road; it is the story of the family's desperate attempt to find out what had happened to them. This is a story rewritten in our current reality, which appears to be modern but is all too similar to the past.
"One can perhaps call it a modern expulsion, one that is forcing me and my sister to break apart as well. In a desperate attempt to separate, love takes us and the family brings us back to the same place, so that we can once again face those slaps." (Marach Zoabi)
The blend of past and present determines the future; and yet, she chooses the future.
Dance, a work by Naomi Vilner (collage, inkjet on archival paper, 91 x 650) is a beautiful and dangerous dance performance, created as a one shot. It is a performance of enchantment and recoiling, attraction and panic, creating the joint dance of figures isolated from the observation of rock throwers by anonymous cameras. The movement, the energy, the way the body is collected and turned around, could, in another reality, be weaved into a dance. Naomi does not give up on that dance, yet she leaves its sources visible as she shows the viewer the option of such a complex, contradictory experience, which still allows the possibility of becoming a dance. This act is a sublimation to an abnormal situation where human beings throw rocks for the sake of their physical and internal freedom. The piece is just like the reality that created it: complex and absurd.
Efrat Levi in Narrative 2.0 (website) claims that anyone born into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has it weaved into their lives, even if they are not aware of it. Efrat develops the overused term "the conflict" into something which is alive, whole and far-reaching, that is able to maintain its complexity on line. A live website features both narratives, categorized into core issues, pictures and texts. The five core issues of the conflict – Jerusalem, the settlements, 1948, The Right of Return, and security – serve to draw an amorphous map. By the dichotomous choice of colors – green for Palestine, blue for Israel – the user experience is weaved into the website. The work/website is based on the principle of concealment and the attempt to refute the other side. The interactive interface proposes an opportunity to experience and explore the contradictions, the mutual ignoring and the existence of both narratives as an educational, investigative alternative. It is a sophisticated 21st century interpretation of Rashomon, the 20th century Japanese film.
The user is invited to wander through this endless map without a compass, in a journey aimed at the understanding that although one does not choose which story to be born into, the ability to know and explore the story of the other is highly significant to the continuation of the story of our society and culture here.
* The website is currently being translated into Arabic and English, and seeking the necessary funds.
Mor Galperin and Ofir Levi create a world where reality and imagination meet on a daily basis, in Swimming School (stop motion with 3-D and photo collage, 2:47 min.). The video employs the language of stop motion of an actor's body with a head attached through digital animation, as a photographic collage, in surrealistic proportions. Swimming School describes a student in an absurd swimming school and the process he undergoes. The work explores his coping in a pointless system and the means by which the system affects him. It is a story about the mental strength or weakness of the individual confronting the system's norms, and the possibility to break the convention.
Every one of us at some point internalized our inability to make a difference. We agreed that there is no point in trying, thus reinforcing that which makes us weak: the status quo, authority, majority rule. The technique invokes the question of the line between the video and film genres. The biggest question is: To what extent are we willing to take responsibility for our awareness? The individual's strength and uniqueness is rooted there. But the question does not stop there. The question of the possible existence of democracy in such a system remains hanging in the air, echoing.
Inbal Raz, A Passing Thought about the Presence of Death in Life (video, 4:35).
Two groups, one of women, the other of men. A physical ritual of unity, full of pride and mixed with undermining force; it is simultaneously embracing and violent. A dilapidated and moldy agricultural structure hints at something that used to be here and died. Death has taken root and now holds living bodies within. They are active alongside stagnation and maintain its existence. Inbal muses about the way we design our national memory, sanctifying death. It is always there, always present. The anxiety of existence distorts our rational thinking and demands violence and constant vigilance.
The group of men is clinging to the supports of the structure in an attempt to lift themselves off the ground. Their movements seem taken from some sort of military drill, aggressive and alert yet remaining detached and pointless. The other women, on the other hand, would like to use their bodies to undo the circular shape created in the structure, while protecting it as much as they can. They wish to mend, but their bodies are frail.
The two genders in this work do not represent men or women but masculinity and femininity as forces acting in the world. They note the difficulty of acting without balance and therefore lacking brakes. It is a distorted society where anxiety resides, a warning sign for leading forces, a beacon showing hidden possibilities, and mostly the germination of the possibility for something abandoned, undivided, not polarized but collective.
Split Second by Neta Bar Zion (analog photography, inkjet on chrome paper, 30 x 50, 30 x 50, 250 x 140) embodies role playing in a person's fate. The human tension between a sense of optimism, stability and freedom and the possibility of crisis, destruction and pain is a universal existential feeling. It is an observation on our fragile place as human beings, on the chance of happiness, even if temporary, and the eternal looming possibility for tragedy and loss.
Laura Vainberg shows in A Lesson in Self Portrait (video, 6:27 min.) the right for self-expression. In the most basic acting, she paints a human portrait of bare necessities. What is it that makes a human? Features or expression? Who is defined as human and by what codes? For these codes define the non-human as well, and serve to define much of humanity as different and foreign, in the best case scenario, and, in the worse case scenario, as an enemy, an existential threat we must characterize as lesser than us in order to justify our own definition.
Shatha Bransi (glass covered duplicated image, 40 x 25) isolates a duplicated image from its context, without any manipulation or change. She displays it separately, on its own, without any databases but as a single image, without memories but as a present time gaze into reality; not as the past but as an ongoing scene, a wound that would not heal.
Shatha chose this work over all of her other pieces and previous artistic paths, in a courageous act. "Because I don't care if they call this art or not, I don't care what category my action falls under, or whether it is worthy of showing by some standards or other. My previous artistic position is void when confronting this photograph of a reality that many would choose to ignore." (Shatha Bransi)
A human being, a toddler lying still on the ground, sends us back to the bird's eye view, and allows us to see in it any other human being, including ourselves.
In conclusion, the wide angle that allows us to see both narratives, as is the case with Narrative 2.0, and the ability to see Shatha Bransi's baby as an impersonal, inhuman prey, creates a way of seeing that delves deep into the core of reality and reveals a mix of internal contradictions.
If we go deeper, can we finally, for any one of innumerable reasons, adopt the broader, inclusive outlook, hence adopting the possibility of embracing shared living in complex realities?
Anat Lidror , Curator
Director of Givat Haviva Collaborative Art Center