A union of opposites

The ‘Still/Moving’ exhibit at the Israel Museum gives one pause – to keep looking.

Carlos Amorales’s ‘Black Cloud.’  (photo credit: Tim Hursley)
Carlos Amorales’s ‘Black Cloud.’
(photo credit: Tim Hursley)
In conjunction with the newly reopened Israel Museum comes an impressive display of contemporary art in the form of the exhibit “Still/Moving,” whose main wall text teases that, “Motion is but a mere illusion of the senses.”
The 26-piece exhibit explores the use of slow motion in contemporary art and utilizes 3D images, video installations, photos, music and light to produce a feeling which the curator, Suzanne Landau, described as “hypnotic.”
Landau explained that the concept behind the exhibit was that it should mirror the way one should ideally view the museum.
“People should take their time in a museum,” Landau said. “They should stop, appreciate art slowly and look at and understand what they’re seeing.”
In keeping with that theme, Landau dedicated a lot of space for the exhibit, saying that art “needs to breathe and have the space it needs.” She believes that art cannot be fully appreciated if pieces are sandwiched right next to each other.
As a result, even the small pieces in the exhibit have large amounts of space for themselves.
The name of the exhibit, “Still/Moving,” was very deliberate. The word “still” can refer to a still from a film or mean “quiet,” while the word “moving” denotes the opposite connotation of quiet, Landau said.
Landau added that “The exhibit has unique works and is quite an achievement.
These major works do not just bring the Israel Museum local significance, but even internationally these works are very important.”
She also stated that, “These works are not just an assembly you can find anywhere else; it has a theme and uniqueness to it.”
The new exhibit was part of the reopening for two reasons. The first reason was that the museum already had two pieces of art that worked well with this slow motion theme. The second reason for the theme was that the reopened museum should be viewed slowly.
The two inspiration pieces for this exhibit were Junya Ishigami’s Table and Bill Viola’s An Instrument of Simple Sensation.
Table features a nearly 30-foot-long steel table supported at each end with everyday objects. The piece moves in an undulating rhythm. Viola’s piece puts the museum goers into a human body as the visitors are confronted with a video screen of a human heartbeat.
Other highlights of the exhibit include Peter Coffin’s Untitled (Free Jazz Mobile), which is made up of 10 instruments hovering inches off the ground; Carlos Amorales’s Black Cloud (latent studio), which sees thousands of black moths glued to a wall; and Rivane Neuenschwander’s Look Who Is Coming, It’s Me (alarm floor), in which visitors walk on a floor with musical instruments underneath and make sounds when they walk.
So far, Landau has found the exhibit to be a hit with the museum visitors. She says they have been “ecstatic about it” and that some people who are not usually interested in contemporary art “have been moved by the exhibit, some even to tears.”
The exhibit, on display in the Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, runs until April 2011.