The issues with which Avital Geva engages have always exceeded the relatively narrow bounds of Art. In setting up the Ecological Greenhouse on his Kibbutz, Ein-Shemer, he has also expanded the designation of the space in which art is created, defining it as an experiment. For the current
exhibition Geva produced the installation Books, Deep River,God. On view outside the museum, it extends into the public park adjacent to it. The installation comprises a temporary library that covers the museum’s walls like a parasite as well as heaps of books scattered both around the the museum’s entrance square and behind it. In this work Geva once again
engages with books as raw material whose role is to ferment and propel local social processes. The premise is that once books are placed in a public area, a temporary micro-society forms around them, which is characterized by consumption and exchange of information. This may be likened to the
organization of ant colonies around a new source of food; here, however, material alimentation is replaced by spiritual sustenance. The disorderly way by which the books are scattered is a raw manifestation of potentiality and openended questioning. The environment arranged by Geva does not direct the visitors but leaves up to every one of us the choice whether to approach, touch, leaf, borrow items, or add new ones to the pile. The library in the museum’s yard is reflected (or sinks into) the water of the pools surrounding it, like a sequel to Geva’s 2014 Books in Deep River outside the National Library of Israel building in Jerusalem. The flowing river stretches outside the defined boundaries of both the revered institute
of culture and the hall of muses. The exterior “outside the fence” invites one, as in Geva’s former works, to explore the environment as an event determined by passersby.
Geva’s current work was made in collaboration with playwright and author Joshua Sobol, who turns his critical gaze on historical events. The books float upon the river like rafts made of words, demanding that we contemplate the new image of Israel—divided, conflicted, and bleeding— as well as refugeedom and spaces of freedom. The title, Books, Deep River, God, is from an Afro-American soul song, likening the crossing of the deep river (the Jordan; the Mississippi) to longing for freedom, like a symbolic step toward the Promised Land. What is our Jordan River nowadays, in 2015 Israel, and what does the hope for the Promised Land look like when reflected in the tempestuous water of current events?