Scene of Events, the title of the new group exhibition at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, should warn visitors that this is no ordinary event. Curated by Dr. Aya Lurie, the museum’s director and chief curator, the show features nine solo exhibitions by artists Oded Balilty, Haimi Fenichel, Avraham Hay, Gaston Zvi Ickowicz, Sharon Poliakine, Eldad Rafaeli, Hadar Saifan, Micha Ullman and Nurit Yarden.
According to Lurie, these nine artists combine photography and sculptural installations in various ways to deliver examples of the scene of events to our consciousness – not as a current news report, but as thoughtful representations, whose impact is the product of the artists’ extended observation, prolonged stay, and actions at the site in question.
An example of this can be seen in photographer Avraham Hay’s New Wing, 1997–1999, in which Hay took pictures regularly throughout the two-year construction of the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art’s new wing. It is through this process that Hay’s documentation offers a time capsule which combines the appearance of a construction site with the image of ruins.
“I took the words ‘scene of events,’ because we hear it constantly – all the time things are happening here, whether it’s terror attacks, wars, fire balloons. So everything is so intense and hectic all the time,” says Lurie. “Yet again, we are in a very ancient place, talking about thousands of years of history, and everything is so complicated. And these artists are ones who take their time, unlike the hectic sense of time in the news, each and every one of them, for three or four years, are going around the place looking very slowly and deeply and discovering the complexity in these focuses. So in a way it’s a mirror, but a different kind of mirror to our place, and they are able to discover things that are hidden underneath.”
The nine exhibitions that make up Scene of Events share common themes and materials, but can also be viewed as independent works.
“All the exhibitions are centered on certain emotionally charged aspects encapsulated by sights of where we live. Besides images of burned fields, urban spaces, and landscapes, the exhibits present images of buildings, construction sites, ruins, piles of sand, stones, iron rods, assorted objects, concrete castings, building plans, and bomb-shelter plans,” says Lurie.
IN THE part of the exhibit entitled Mound, sculptor Haimi Fenichel produces a space that resembles a building site, with an overwhelming sense of impending ruin. Fenichel plays with materials, swapping them around to create new combinations of image and substance, to produce hybrids that are at once familiar and alien.
“It’s about time and what it is made out of, and what it makes to an object which is always an allegory to humankind,” says Fenichel.
He draws on two types of sites, each steeped in Zionist-Israeli symbolism: a construction site, and an archeological dig. In the case of Fenichel’s work, a single material links these two sites together: hardened sand, which he uses both as a fundamental constituent in construction and as an image of an archeological mound in the landscape.
In Nurit Yarden’s area of the show, her project, Homeland, examines the penetration of visual, social, and political signs into society.
“I am always interested in investigating the Israeli public sphere and the people who live in Israel, and it is always with an ironic eye,” says Yarden.
To Yarden, the idea of the homeland is found in the small details; a pickled cucumber and a bitten slice of bread in a worker’s meal on Shvil Hameretz Street; a Messiah sign fixed onto a car at the end of Allenby Street; a stall selling large cauliflowers that are cut with a sharp ax at Kalandia Checkpoint.
“I wander around for something that interests me. I am trying to talk about what is happening, but in another way. I am trying to find a way to invoke speaking about things we don’t want to see in a way that people will want,” she says.
For Yarden, it is elemental that the titles of each of her works are printed in English, Hebrew and Arabic, because she wants everyone to be included in her exhibition. “This is a very important part of my work, for this work is based on wandering about – where you go on foot, but without purpose. I read an article that people in the 21st century do not wander around anymore. They go from place to place, always with a purpose. So 10 years ago, I decided my work would be based on walking around, so I do it in Tel Aviv and other parts of Israel.”‘Scene of Events’ with run through April 27. For more information, go to herzliyamuseum.co.il.
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