Matan Ben Tulila, , Naama Ben Yosef, Maya Bloch, Zachi Buchbut, Peleg Dishon, Yael Efrati, Tamar Harpaz, Rodeh Lea Golda Holterman, Noga Inbar, Daniel Mann, Jumana Manna, Lior Modan, Tom Pnini, Alona Rodeh, Nevet Yishak

Petach Tikva Museum of Art

March – July 2011

The exhibition Shesh Besh brings together works in diverse media by young local artists who have emerged in the art scene during the past five/six years. The show is underlain by the desire to trace major features of young local practice, and mainly, the places where it displays a challenging use of familiar materials, ideas, and arenas while intrinsically shifting their meaning.

Although it is not a thematic exhibition, most of the works make an educated use of various aspects of fabrication and crafting. Oscillating between the real and the imaginary, the sentimental and the conceptual, they create a mimetic, illusory world in which concepts of matter and space are intermittently undermined and consolidated.

At the entrance to the space, the viewer encounters Manhattan's familiar skyline, with a star twinkling from time to time in the background—a work which marks a yearning of sorts, some undefined hope, perhaps even a promise. The transition to the central exhibition space is sharp. It is a cold, illuminated space with a concentration of structural works addressing notions of home and protection. External walls, delineated spaces, sealed bunkers, necessary ventilation means, and similar elements which convey a sense of urgency, danger, or war. Juxtaposed with these works are three flagpoles, towering and at the same time bent, folding in on themselves, broken. The inner exhibition space and the additional extensions contain works of a slightly more playful nature, whether formally or conceptually.

Several thematic axes are thus outlined throughout the show: an ostensibly formalistic engagement, inclined toward the minimalistic, yet displaying local, personal, even physical aspects (Yael Efrati, Jumana Manna, Matan Ben Tulila); engagement with the process and integration of movement and sound elements (Alona Rodeh, Naama Ben Yosef); engagement with the notion of history while relating to its documentary dimension and the resulting perception of truth (Daniel Mann, Noga Inbar, Maya Bloch); intentionally deceptive fluctuation between various material and mediumal dimensions (Peleg Dishon, Zachi Buchbut); conscious use of bare manipulation (Tom Pnini, Lior Modan); reference to existing cultural sources (Lea Golda Holterman, Tamar Harpaz, Nevet Yitshak).

Between political urgency and repression, the featured works transpire along a spectrum which, in many ways, parallels the local modi operandi and way of life: in the shadow of history and the given political situation, yet from an ostensibly universal perspective.

* Heb. for the game of backgammon, literally denoting the dice throw six-five.

Yael Efrati

White Cement, Aggregates, Glues, and Sun, 2010

Plaster boards, spackle, switch plate, spritz, socket, bulb

Yael Efrati

Untitled, 2011

Perspex, sockets, bulbs

Yael Efrati's work misleads the viewer. At first sight it seems to replicate existing mundane objects, and that the very act of their duplication and display as sculptural objects in the space introduces an estrangement. A domestic wall bearing an electric outlet or rectangular lamps used to mark municipal street names, thus transform into minimalist, abstract opaque objects cut off from a functional context, and abruptly exposed to interpretation. A closer look at the works reveals that Efrati not only duplicates them, but introduces a shift as well, and that the work process is in fact based on a photographic perspective. The wall piece simulates framing and cropping of a real wall section, which in turn spawns a landscape image, whereas the lamp work relies on perspectival distortion typical to photography, one which the eye corrects automatically, but the camera captures and perpetuates. In doing this, Efrati explores the material, visual, and conceptual transition from two-dimensionality to three-dimensionality, between photography and sculpture, matter and concept.

Thanks to Giora Shachal and Hila Laviv

Zachi Buchbut

Live Broadcast, 2011

Mixed media on wall

Zachi Buchbut's work consists of a large-scale mural simulating and simultaneously distorting the pattern of a backgammon (Shesh Besh) board. A piece of fabric is suspended from the ceiling above the painting, likewise cut in a repetitious geometrical pattern. The work sustains a tension between a direct, unequivocal dimension manifested in the mural, and a soft, ostensibly elusive dimension manifested in the fabric cutout, thereby exploring the two-way spillover between two-dimensional and three-dimensional, soft and rigid, stable and mutable. The title of the work alludes to the potential inherent in the encounter between the viewer and the work, a potential which generates a continuous state of structural illusion and visual transmutation, accompanying the viewer's movement in the space.

Maya Bloch

Untitled, 2010

Acrylic on canvas

Expressive, sensual, and harsh, Maya Bloch's portrait paintings are usually made after anonymous old photographs in which she exposes an oscillation between the foreign and the familiar, an aspect pursued through the mediation of painting. Between memory and hallucination, the paintings evolve layer upon layer, like the strata of consciousness from which they are hewn; figuration over abstraction, abstraction over figuration, until they gather an independent status entirely divorced from the photographic original.

Matan Ben Tolila

Notes (diptych), 2010

Oil on canvas

Matan Ben Tolila's work combines reality and fantasy. Two tall, bald, pointy mountains tower behind a wall whose shape echoes the Separation Wall. The gaze into the depth of the painting, toward the mountains, is blocked, and the wall, extending breadth-wise across the diptych, cuts the work, misleading the viewer in the aesthetic-formalistic interplay of its apparition. Amid the work's recurrent acts of repetition, distortion, filling, and subtraction, it seems as though Ben Tulila strives to combine figurative and abstract painting somehow.

On loan from the Geny and Hanina Brandes Art Collection, Tel Aviv

Naama Ben Yosef

Fan, 2009

PVC, tar

Naama Ben Yosef

Untitled, 2011

Ink print, tube, water

Naama Ben Yosef presents two separate works. One, an enlarged wall fan which seems to have been exposed to extreme heat and has melted. Its blades appear to dissolve and drip, its movement is slow, and it lacks clear functionality, as it barely gathers momentum and fails to move the air around. A hardened layer of black tar has inexplicably accumulated on one of its blades, reinforcing the violence potential accompanying the work's presence. The other piece is a photograph presented on the wall, exposed, while water drips on it slowly, dissolving its surface and blurring its contour. In so doing, the dripping and gathering water drops generate a new image of sorts outlined directly on the wall, an abstract painterly image which is enhanced and fixed precisely the sparser and blurrier the photographic image becomes. Ben Yosef thus endeavors to undermine prevalent mediumal distinctions, and in some way transform the photograph into both a painting and a sculpture, generating a situation where destruction and construction are inseparably bound.

Lea Golda Holterman

Untitled, 2010

Color print

Lea Golda Holterman's work comprises a single image simultaneously presented on several billboards throughout the city, as well as in the exhibition space. The photograph features a dark-skinned young man wearing an Armani shirt, a scarf with a pattern reminiscent of a keffiyah and an image of the Temple Mount embedded in it, tied to his head. Presented with neither title nor context on the billboards, the image hovers in the public visual space, enigmatic and jolting, threatening and intriguing, devoid of a clear, coherent meaning, fluctuating deceptively between various discursive orders, among them politics and identity, advertising and fashion. It is a stratified image that sheds light on the way in which we respond to visual symbols and read images; an ostensibly unraveled image, exposed to the entire spectrum of prevalent stereotypes.

Peleg Dishon

A Blue Blinder, 2011

Paper cutout on scanner

Peleg Dishon's work explores the material presence of light in a given space. The image—drawn from a real platform, and constructed in Dishon's piece from countless paper cutouts which he builds, layer upon layer, and finally scans to form a single-surface work—light appears as a substance in several ways at once: in the light beams exposing the depth of the stage, as a material structuring the scanned image in reverse, and as the decisive element without which the final image—which is presented in an open light box based on a construction which imitates a professional lighting rig—cannot be seen. The title of the work alludes to a certain type of flood lights—blinders—mounted on stage and pointed directly at the audience, to create a blinding effect and allow for a scene change. The flash erases memory, but at the same time, as opposed to darkening, etches a silhouette, an elusive residue, on the retina.

Tamar Harpaz

Goldrush, 2008

Glass, slide projector

Tamar Harpaz's work oscillates between the static and the dynamic, relying on a cyclical, repetitive principle. A piece of glass inserted into a slide projector produces an abstract image on the wall. The distortion generated by the glass in the projector's automatic focus results in an infinite mechanical search motion for the focal point of the projected image, a movement which makes the image inflate and shrink alternately, until it seems to breathe. Another image is projected alongside this work, simultaneously and alternatingly presenting two perspectives from a duel scene. This image also appears to breathe, and moreover—it seems trapped within itself, in the endless tautology of its movement. The title of the work indicates a potential narrative link between the two works pertaining to the gold rush which characterized the period addressed by the film from which the duel scene was extracted, Once Upon a Time in the West.

Nevet Yitshak

Alashan Maleish Gherak, 2011

Video projection on manipulated Gobelin

A video featuring the portrait of Farid el-Atrash performing the song "No One Like You" solo is projected on an elliptical Gobelin painted white and hung in a frame of wood and gold. The singer emerges from the darkness, his face heavily made up like an odd death mask, and the melodramatic quality of the lyrics is heightened and emphasized by his gestures and facial expressions. Appearing and disappearing, moving and touching but also farcical, Atrash's theatrical singing resembles a struggle for life, ultimately dependent on an external, separate factor. The presentation of the Gobelin within this given frame lends the work a domestic appearance, but also a majesty historically associated with the heritage and status of the figures whose portraits are thus presented. This additional context extracts Atrash's portrait from the narrative-romantic context of the film, articulating the complexity involved in the presentation of a portrait, any portrait, in the 21st century. The fact that only the singer's voice is heard at certain moments, while his face is seen at others requires the viewer to explore the fixed ways in which he is accustomed to view images or listen to sound.

Lior Modan

Model for an Antenna #1, 2011

Iron, glass, wax, wood, spring, Perspex, cork, cardboard, tin, book

Lior Modan's work is akin to an ironic obelisk consisting of an iron base, a body of compressed wax, an old box spring, and a tin umbrella. The obelisk is based on recurring structural shifts taking place around a rotary inner axis, making for a multiplicity of gazes not only at the work, but also inside it, into the inner realms it generates. The box spring at the heart of the work pays homage to the amateur antenna prototype made in the 1930s. In this work, however, it also functions as a type of sounding board, calling upon the viewer to construe the obelisk as an antenna which transmits, echoes, and projects inward, into itself.

Jumana Manna

15.05.1948, 2011

Bent flagpoles

Jumana Manna's installation consists of three bent, distorted flagpoles protruding from the exhibition floor, shot into its space, so that their ends are tangential to its ceiling, only to fold in on themselves like withered flowers. Both monumental and heart-rending, the flag poles dominate the space, carrying a bleak political message with them. The introduction of civil sphere indication into the exhibition space disrupts its whitened tranquility, forcing the viewer to physically and mentally confront the occurrences in it. The title of the work channels its reading towards a local historical wound that has not yet healed, concealing mourning, yearning, struggle, and hope at one and the same time.

Daniel Mann

Future Diaries, 2011

Video, 46 min

Daniel Mann's video consists entirely of existing raw materials: Super-8 films shot by his father during the family's world travels were edited to form a new meta-narrative which is no longer real, but not invented either. The use of the original footage taken by the patriarch over the years subverts the father's status as leader of the familial narrative, undermining his authority to recount the single, representative story, instead introducing a very different narrative alternative; a structural deconstruction of the nuclear family. By means of external narration, an obscure story, possibly historical, possibly futuristic, is constructed and spun, generating great tension and leaving the viewer alert as the sense of catastrophe hovers inexplicably in mid-air. Appropriation of the original footage and its re-editing expropriates it from the traditional familial context, infusing it with a new implied context. The recurring crucial motif is the search which is also a flight, the eternal drawing away from home in a circular route of wandering which has no clear finish line. The link between the private home and the national home is implied throughout the film, yet not explicitly specified. At times it seems like a propaganda film, at others—like a documentary about a family of refugees seeking a new home. The title contains temporal reversal, the mixture between cause and effect, the innate inability to mediate the experience.

Noga Inbar

All is Secured, Nothing is True, 2011

Tempera on old notebooks

Noga Inbar's work touches upon the structuring of history, questioning the notion of truth deriving from it. Inbar sketched several structures on old notebooks, which she copied from Paul Virilio's Bunker Archaeology, a book that offers a critical reading of the deserted bunkers scattered along France's southern coast since the end of World War II. On the wall, next to the drawings, appears the inscription "All is secured, nothing is true" extracted from a text by anarchist group The Invisible Committee, ridiculing in many respects the attempt to generate a protected, closed setting, since it is unclear against what the protection is exactly required. The work continues Inbar's exploration of power and authority structures, and mainly the way in which they are manifested in an architectural context in various sites of signification, such as mental asylums.

Tom Pnini

Star Demo, 2010

Helium star balloon, 700 m string

Video, 3:11 min, loop

Tom Pnini's video works distinctively use handicraft. They are sewn, sculpted, and staged intimately, based on an analogue link, real in the physical sense of the term. In the work in the exhibition, Manhattan's skyline is presented as it is seen from the opposite Brooklyn coast, with a star shining every now and then. The star is, in fact, a giant helium balloon sewn by Pnini, which he asked a friend to hoist in the air with a 700 meter-long string, while Pnini, based in Brooklyn, directed a giant projector at the balloon and filmed it from a distance. The dimension of exposed illusion, typical of Pnini's works is also discernible here, since the balloon twinkles and may be seen only when the light beam indeed hits it and is reflected off it, thereby exposing not only the principle on which the specific work relies, but also, perhaps mainly, the desire innate to each and every one of us, to believe in what we see.

Alona Rodeh

Anxiety, 2011

Birch plywood, shakers, sound, 1:15 min, loop

Alona Rodeh's work brings together an assembly of plywood structures concentrated densely on a low-lying wooden platform. Sound shakers concealed in the platform base transmit only bass output, thereby generating a recurrent blast which transforms into a rough and persistent low audio blend repeating itself in a gripping, hypnotizing rhythm. In response to the intensity of the sound waves, the structures installed on the platform tremble, producing a continuous background noise. The ostensibly-formalistic sculptural body is thus revealed as a body full of life, wrapped by a real potential of losing control. The accumulation of sound conveys a ritual, tribal feeling; interestingly it also connects with the historical essence to which the structure—reminiscent in shape of ancient burial structures such as the Mesopotamian Ziggurat or the Aztec Step Pyramid—refers. The result is a combination between a subtraction of visual and musical details which lead to external regulation and restraint, on the one hand; compression and an erupting physical density which appears violent on occasion, on the other.

Construction of sound system: Ronni Shubinsky

The work is an elaboration of a detail from the piece Friday (Reduced) created in collaboration with musician Maya Dunietz

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