Curators: Drorit Gur Arie, Meital Manor
In the past two decades Tal Shochat has focused on staged photography, exploring several major themes, primarily the family and Mizrahi identity. In the current exhibition she looks further into the past, weaving diverse figures into a local sphere which flickers with erupting memories, as in a dream. This black-and-white cinematic installation echoes the aesthetics of Italian Neo-Realism, which inserts the fantastic into the turbid realty of wretched characters. In this no-happy-ending script, the figures elude the viewer with their period attire, as they progress in a quasipagan procession against the background of a virginal landscape whose intactness is occasionally interrupted by noises of the everyday. These juxtapositions are accompanied by an original music played on Middle Eastern instruments, intervening in the rifted space to create temporal and spatial disorientation.Shochat’s repeated engagement with her parents, who now lead the procession, is based on her father’s habit to stage the family in fabricatedidyllic scenes, which he documented on his super-8 camera, in her childhood. When she grew up, Shochat turned the camera back at her parents, initially as a means to explore her own identity, and subsequently—as a gesture of commemoration and farewell.
Via transitions between the personal and the collective, Shochat touches upon questions of identity, time, and place. The procession was shot amid the ruins of the Agrobank transit camp and a British military base in the Hadera dunes—a surreal backdrop in which figures, gestures, and images, ostensibly extracted from the Zionist ethos reservoir and the scars of immigration, march side by side. The figures represent the trauma of Mizrahi immigration to Israel in the 1950s, while at the same time calling for a stratified reading of the past vis-à-vis current phenomena of refugeeism and migration of nations. Shochat’s “shanty town” pictures evade the prevalent images of the past and the transit camp for the realms of a silent cinematic vision in nature.