Artists: Jennifer Abessira, Yaron Attar, Iftach Ayali, Eden Bannet, Tzvi Ben Aretz, Boyan and Gad Zukin, Christopher Chiappa, Dror Daum, Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter, Anne de Vries, , Maayan Elyakim, Tamar Ettun, Sharon Fadida, Lali Fruheling, Assaf Gruber, Tsahi Hacmon, Fahed Halabi, Tamar Hirshfeld, Judith Kakon, Ronit Keret, Efrat Kedem, Tamir Liechtenberg, Amit Levinger, Eran Nave, Hila Toony Navok, Lee Nevo, Roula Partheniou, Mor Shallit, Ishai Shapira Kalter, Malki Tesler, Shay-Lee Uziel, Lior Waterman, Roni Weiss, B. Wurtz, Noa Yafe and Shai Yehezkelli
Curators: Joshua Simon and Liz Hagag
“I love the machine for peeling potatoes / And the machine for slicing bread / The two water containers with the wheels / The room for storing crates / I love the kitchen in its wholeness / Including the pallet board…” From: Aharon Shabtai, Kibbutz, 1973
Objects are not still, nor silent (in Hebrew, “object” means “will” or chefetz – similar to “having an objective” in English). Objects converse ceaselessly: for instance, they tell us that labor in this world has, for the most part, shifted from production to consumption. The outcome of this shift, they tell us, is that alienation no longer defines our labor conditions (as it did in the case of industrial production).
Now our labor is defined by debt, which has become the basis for all exchange – from mortgages to credit cards and licensed goods. Objects convey that even if we call things “new” or “upgraded,” our relations with the world actually become frozen through our own debt. We become still while objects are alive.
In the exhibition, a series of principles appear that activate our relations with objects. First, it seems our role in this world is to absorb surpluses. While walking around the exhibits, we see that they came to the world as commodities. We get a sense that they feel at home in this world more than we do. The artists in the exhibition seem like hunter-gatherers who show their findings – an act not of appropriation but of dispossession. We no longer have control over things. They do not subordinate to our will; rather, they manage our existence. As such, when these objects are exhibited, we see them as the plasticized negative space of debt.
Objects, as commodities, contain two forms of labor: production and consumption. The language of these commodity-objects brings together the vocabulary of alienation with the syntax of debt, and through display, objects are able to speak their native tongue. When these objects speak, they convey an additional value above and beyond their exchange and use values: a sentimental value. With this value, objects are mediums: they convey all the people that have crafted them at every step, everywhere; everyone who took part in bringing them into being in the world. By that, the commodity is truest to itself as an art work. Through its display as art, the commodity teaches us a profound lesson. It is through an analysis of our world with political economy that we are brought to mystical conclusions – objects are not still, nor silent.
Photo Credit: Lena Gomon