Contemporary Agriculture in Israeli Art. Curator: Tali Tamir 19.2.2015 - 13.6.2015

Bucket Conglomerates: buckets, sorted soils from the
Sharon (loam, loess, Nazaz, and sand), concrete, iron and
copper cables
Production: Renana Neuman
Assistants: Efrat Lipkin, Avi Ben-Shushan

The Hour “Control Cabinet”: 7-channel video
Camera and editing: Renana Neuman
2nd camera: Shira Tabachnik
Production assistant: Matan Oren

The House, the Soil, and the Grove: 3-channel sound
Interviewees: Yitzhak Gothilf, Eli Argaman, Abdallah Amash,
Oded Shellef, Nira Efroni
Interviewer: Relli De Vries
Interview editing: Gabriel Comidi
Soundtrack: Gustav Mahler, “The Farewell” from “The Song of the Earth”
(1908) performed by Kathleen Ferrier and the Vienna Philharmonic
Orchestra conducted by Bruno Walter (1952)
Sound arrangement: Assaf Talmudi

Digital LED strip
Text: Relli De Vries
Programming and control: Shmulik Twig

The installation The Book of Hours is constructed as an agro-mechanical apparatus which marks the poetic space of an agricultural universe. Inspired by The Book of Hours of the Duke de Berry painted in the 15th century, which depicts the orders of the world in terms of the cycles of the seasons and agriculture, Relli De Vries’s Book of Hours addresses Israeli agricultural time. It is informed by a link between biographical memory and theoretical knowledge, and between philosophical insight and political consciousness. The installation’s principal tension axis focuses on the polarity typical to Israeli agriculture: between the low, physical, gravitational aspect, and the fantastic, ideological ascending aspect. It is an electric tension axis which connects heaven and earth, and is stopped in the depths of the earth, like a ground; it ties the seven beams inserted in the museum’s ceiling, outlining the Big Dipper, to the bucket weights overflowing with soil placed on the ground. At the same time, it is also an axis of emotional tension, signifying the gaze which leads skyward, expressing the anxiety of uncertainty and the poetry innate to the farmer’s relations with the forces of nature determining his fate.
In the cluster of videos screened in the “control cabinet” dominating the installation, De Vries, the granddaughter of a farmer, one of the founders of Kfar Yona in the Sharon, marks three sites associated with the agricultural mythology of her family—the vacant and deserted farm house of “Mataei Hasharon” (The Sharon Plantations), the orchard cultivated by her father, and the orchard’s gate—through which she discusses site, ideology, and soil. “The Farewell” from Gustav Mahler’s cycle “The Song of the Earth” accompanies the photographic cycles which follow the setting of the sun and the waning of light. De Vries is interested in darkness as the time span when the earth leads its secret life for itself, with neither workers nor owners, guided by nature alone. “I look at the silent, exhausted land which was exploited as an ostensibly stable ground; I study it, and mainly contemplate it as a passive carrier of ideology,” she says.
The installation The Book of Hours engages with the Sharon, an area whose land has been deemed “collapsing land,” due to an extensive uprooting of orchards, and their transformation into real estate sites. The orange, the “Zionist diamond,” which was appropriated for the promotion of Zionism, and became its quintessential symbol, emerges in the genizah (archiving, shelving) cabinet standing on the right. There, it is presented once as “Earth”—a part of a cosmic scheme, alongside the sun (a grapefruit) and the moon (a lemon), and once again—as an empty peel. The yardsticks of the “Soil Erosion Station,” which was closed and liquidated, function as measures of an ideology which was excluded, eroded, and ultimately dissolved.