Did the video artists and organizers of the exhibition of new video works,
Another World is Possible, at the Bezalel Gallery at 23 Jaffa Road in Jerusalem,
have any inkling when they began planning it that the timing would be perfect?
It opens just as the tent protests for social justice that riveted the country
all summer are winding down.
In fact, the title of the exhibition itself
could have been the slogan on a sign painted by the protesters.
exhibition of 10 films, which was assembled by curator Maayan Amir, was
sponsored by the New Israeli Fund for Cinema and Television.
The venue is
also particularly apt.
Although the address itself, 23 Jaffa Road, may
not remind you of anything, if you are a Jerusalemite you’ve probably been to
that building more times than you can count – it’s the city’s main post office.
The Bezalel Gallery is upstairs, but there is one video monitor in the
Being in this building cannot fail to conjure
memories of long waits, snarling bureaucrats, and, for many, struggling to be
understood in less-than-perfect Hebrew.
The idea that “Another world is
possible” is particularly inspiring in this context.
, the short video that plays in this entrance, focuses on images of
urban decay and deprivation.
As you enter the main gallery, you can see
and hear several videos at once, and as you walk through, there are more in
separate rooms. The subtitle of the exhibition might be, “Watch it your way.”
The advantage of such a presentation, where the works play continuously, is that
you can choose when to begin watching, and when to stop. For anyone used to
seeing films in the conventional way, from beginning to end, this is quite a
change. In this exhibition, you are encouraged to really look at each image, and
to simply react to it, rather than being led through it by a conventional
Amit Berlowitz’s Awakening
, for example, plays on three
screens, each showing a video that is not quite what it seems. In one video, a
game on a beach between an apparently happy couple turns into something more
sinister. In another, a romantic walk in the woods completely changes, depending
on when you start watching the video. Like many of these works, the videos hint
at danger, mixed motives and terror.
The literal centerpiece of the
exhibition is Tali Keren’s The Interpreter
. Playing on two screens, it features
testimony from Claude Lanzmann’s documentary Shoah
, recited in different
languages by male voices, while it is also performed by female sign-language
interpreters (and has a Hebrew translation on a separate monitor). Although the
words may be familiar to anyone who has seen the film or read histories of the
Holocaust, seeing them illustrated in this way underscores each image that the
speakers describe. It gives them a freshness that is very hard to achieve in a
traditional talking-heads documentary format.
As a backdrop, a set
illustrating a concentration camp exterior is less effective than seeing an
elderly man’s words interpreted by the hands of a younger woman.
Kislev’s The Brain
also makes a strong but very different impression in its nine
minutes. In the spirit of the exhibition, I’ll describe it without attempting to
make sense of it. The focus is an arresting and distorted image of a Stephen
Hawking-like scientist who is going to Israel to win a prize. He has a huge and
creepy head coming out of tiny neck. While in Israel, he calls his girlfriend,
apparently a German teenager who lives with her father. As she sits in her pink
bedroom and chats with the scientist, her disapproving father comes on the line
and tries to break them up. Then, two Russian women talk by phone about how
badly the scientist treats women. This is contrasted with a lecture he gives
about how the sun is going to die, which is illustrated with arresting images
watched by adoring young viewers.
Several of the works seem to make
pointed comments on the current political standoff.
, projected on the floor, shows images of a construction site,
seen from the point of view of construction workers. A chain dangles like a
tentacle as the camera peers down from the top of the building being
constructed, and in another sequence, construction workers eat lunch. This is
Ground Zero of the housing crisis, and we are with the workers who build houses
they most likely will never afford to live in.
A different kind of urban
malaise is on display in Aya Ben-Ron’s Patient, as a nurse walks through a
dilapidated but empty hospital, and it becomes clear that the building itself is
a kind of patient.
Several of the other works, including Alona
, Rinat Kotler’s Explosive Flow
, and Ohad Fishof’s Abduction
use often jarring images to create a feeling of uncertainty and
Rona Yafman’s Let It Bleed, teases conventions about gender
The exhibition runs through November 5, and is open
Tuesday to Thursday, 4 to 8 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Watch it and
experience the possibility of this other world.