The artists taking part in “Plenty” are engaged in close relations with the everyday materials around us, reflecting a struggle between the desire to be connected to reality and respond to it, and the desire and need to break away from it and leave it behind. The plenty to which the exhibition relates breaks out of the material itself or out of objects found in our everyday environment – a municipal garbage bin, precast concrete, pails used in construction, a plastic chair, sand. This transformative process is based on playing with and experiencing materiality through cheap, readily available, ordinary objects, some of them harmful to the environment and nondegradable, in which a spiritual, mystical and infinite quality is discovered. The artists’ treatment of these everyday materials confers on them a sublime quality, albeit a bit deflated, like the carpet beater that has become seductive jewellery, or the classical marble sculpture whose limbs are made of chewing gum. The treatment of the objects and materials endows “Plenty” with sculptural logic, even if not all the works are sculptures.
“Shefa,” the exhibition’s Hebrew title, is also an acronym for Municipal Improvement Department. This unit’s influence on the aesthetics of the public space is as extensive as it is crucial. Its responsibilities include installing park and sidewalk benches, fencing off areas and planting trees and flowers, and its storerooms contain objects of decoration and construction, rendering it, effectively, the shaper of the urban landscape. Some of the works in the exhibition offer artistic tributes and interventions, which accord these objects a place in the museum. The thrust is to formulate a principled approach in terms of economizing and reusing, while recognizing the museum as a municipal unit with the ability to collaborate with other departments and thereby harness municipal resources; to make use of what there is and locate the freedom of action in that regard.
Survival value inheres in the possibility of this playing to inspirit inanimate objects and uncover additional potentialities they possess, besides the functional. It is important to preserve the right to play, to explore and to experiment, even under conditions of duress, on the brink of a state of emergency. The contemplation of “plenty” as manifested in the exhibition does not perceive it as a conceptual movement that seeks to escape reality and insulate itself in the confines of fantasy; it seeks, instead, to apprehend the transformative potential embodied in the everyday object, and acts to expand it. The works in this exhibition sustain and safeguard the naivety of the artistic act and the sensitivity it entails. This is not a lyrical or a disconnected posture; it is a quasi-naïve position that imbues the exhibition with a certain melancholy quality, stemming from the thrust of the works to break free of the reality to which they are shackled.