Degree show of the first graduating class of the Master of Fine Arts program at the Hamidrasha School of Art, Beit Berl College.
Participants: Tomer Azulay, Yael Gazit, Yael Gesser, Nitzan Hamerman, Noa Yafe, Alma Itzhaky, Orit Ishai, Liber May, Cheli Mezerai, Tamar Nisim, Luciana Kaplon, Shai Retner, and Hadas Tapouchi.
Curator: Barak Ravitz
Parashat (Torah portion) Ki Tisa binds the attributes – god’s attributes – together with a meaningful artistic act. After the Israelites sinned by engaging in an act of sculpting at the foot of Mount Sinai and taking part in the construction of the golden calf, God appeared in a cloud that passed in front of Moses, who said to him “…the LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…” (Exodus 34, verse 6-7). According to tradition, these two verses count god’s Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. The presence of these is very important in special times of prayer, and it has some presence in weekday morning prayers. Moreover, due to their great sacredness and virtue, it is prohibited from being uttered by an individual. Therefore, the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy can only be discussed in public.
Similar to the counting of the thirteen attributes, the exhibition – that is, the time in which the final products leave the artist’s private studio space and enter the public exhibition space, is a moment of discussing the attributes in public. The thirteen graduates – artists who differ from one another in their biography, medium of practice, intellectual concerns, and artistic viewpoint – have arrived at this moment when it is customary to stand up tall and discuss the attributes in public. They are all willing to challenge this moment, sometimes – so it seems – to the point where they undermine it.
This is manifested most notably in the multitude of video works in the exhibition. The featured videos relate to various film genres, and do not ignore the storytelling tradition of the seventh art – a tradition that video art has tended to clash with since it rose to prominence. Only that the storytellers in this exhibition insist on building a complex narrative – be it by a nonsynchronous editing of video and audio, by deflecting meaning through reiterating variations of the same theme, or by importing foreign cultures and sights into a local landscape or setting.
It seems that the cataloging term “dimensions variable” best describes the presence of the projected image as it is experienced in the exhibition, and not only because of the obvious correlation between the width and height of the image and the size of the wall on which it is projected. The artist also question the absolute attribute – the duration of the film – by drawing more than one line between the two points of beginning and end.
Even the photographs in the exhibition are able to bend different times into a single frame; they trick the familiar arrangement of the body; iron an everyday object so thinly that it re-inflates and becomes a new object
The painting, whose measurements are inherent to its medium – for the painter first has to consider the width and length of the canvas – is revealed in the exhibition in two versions that refuse to be at peace with the dimensions allocated to them. One collapses under the weight of the image, while the other drives its image to nearly collapse under the weight of the paint and the thickness of the blots.
Furthermore, it is not surprising that sculpture, a medium that heavily relies on having three dimensions, is almost entirely absent from the exhibition. In its only appearance, three-dimensional objects also refuse to submit to exact dimensions by growing out of the photograph, withering, dwindling, and decomposing.
Like the old joke about the Persian guy and the coin that awaits him in the corner of the round room, the building of modest dimensions deceives its visitors; it provides a sense of direction and order, yet it summons the viewer to an endless and possibly disorienting lapse. Discussing the attributes in public – the commandment of the exhibition Attributes, which revolves around its thirteen participants, is undoubtedly demanding. Nevertheless, to the attention of the Persian in the room, a reward is guaranteed.