A Group Exhibition of Israeli Artists in Cyprus Curator: Drorit Gur Arie
"Periods of happiness are empty pages in history, for they are the periods of harmony, times when the antithesis is missing," alerts Hegel (in The Philosophy of History). But how many such empty pages do we know? It seems as though, current history, certainly local history, is being written daily, hourly, in a triumphant constitution of capitalist production which, like a ventriloquist's puppet, dubs a mythical past into a spectacle for a blinded audience. The fatalist rift, emergency, and destruction are our routine, the eternal stasis of a deadlocked struggle. Maybe these are, rather, the days of redemption, a present experienced as the cast shadow of a bleeding eternal past; perhaps in the spirit of Karl Marx, who, in reading Hegel's Philosophy of History, regards history as a recurring sequence of tragic events which reconstruct themselves in a spiral movement, "once as tragedy, and again as farce" (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte). For Marx, the course of history can only be grasped in retrospect, as in a dream. Hence, the meaning of events and human actions experienced as the outcome of free will is a part of a hidden master plan. Even if a secular man is perceived as the writer of the play in which he himself performs, this does not negate his being a marionette in the service of another, religious spirit. Such may also be the tangled knot of the secular political discourse in Israel, which is bound up with the messianic one. Thus, under the vigilant eye of "the owl of Minerva," man sets the wheels of "the eternal return of the new" in motion with unconscious gaiety.
About the Exhibition
The show brings together works by some of the most intriguing personal voices in Israeli video-art today. Their work reveals an affinity with the realms of ritual, Jewish symbolism, and cosmological cyclicality of life and death.
The participants represent a generation of young Israeli video-artists whose members have devised a variety of strategies for approaching the harsh, polarized reality surrounding them. All videos respond to one stratum or more in the multi-layered structure of identity, be it their individual, public, cultural, historic, or political one. Some, like Yael Bartana, Nevet Yitzhak, Amir Yatziv and Jonathan Doweck, appropriate forms, symbols, objects, and sites directly from the physical landscape, often to twist them into subtle political commentary. Others, like Shahar Marcus, employ humor as a tool for deconstructing history's explosive potential, while yet others, such as Ran Slavin, mix sci-fi aesthetics and archaeological fantasy to portray the peculiar way in which these elements affect everyday politics in Israel. The personal poetry of Dafna Shalom, Dana Levy, Itzik Badash, and Yosef-Joseph Dadoune, exemplifies the work of mourning performed by many Israeli artists, in an attempt to come to terms with the violence of history, the violence of social hardship, or simply—interpersonal violence so prevalent in our region.
Reconstruction and repetition, a cyclic human state of struggle, construction and destruction, a fusion of reality, speculation, and fiction anchored in the fascinating relationship between ritual, place, and history—all these are at the core of "Recurrence." Viewed together, the works present a spectacular, stylized, and eye-pleasing manifestation of violence. Eros and Thanatos are thus bound together in a Gordian knot.
The exhibition is the first project of Israeli art in Nicosia, Cyprus, staged in collaboration with NIMAC, Nicosia Municipal Arts Center.