Artists: Tal Shoshan, Gil Yefman, John Baldessari, Trixi Weis, Jean-Luc Vilmouth, Ira Eduardovna, Jordan Wolfson, Einat Amir, Imogen Stidworthy, Romy Achituv and Orit Kruglanski, Alix Pearlstein and Shahar Marcus
Curator: Danna Taggar Heller
Signals is a group exhibition of video, new media, and installation works by contemporary artists, all of which embody the tension between the performative video medium and each artist’s unique sign language with which he tries to tell his “story.” The exhibition tries to be a junction between different sign languages (authentic, invented, iconic, or signs as instructions), and their deconstruction into body, voice, and word.
One of the inspirations for the exhibition was John Baldessari’s I Am Making Art (1971), which provided both a question and an answer to the artist’s gestures while also being a critique of the popular Body Art of his era. The exhibition asks to broaden the conversation about sign, signal, and gesture by investigating the coherence/incoherence dichotomy embodied in the sign as seen by the viewer. The visitor in the exhibition experienced a cacophony of signs, signals, sounds, and words. A hearing person was able to understand works in which gestures are accompanied by sound and spoken text, while hearing-impaired visitors in the exhibition appreciated the works using authentic sign language. Thus the exhibition space turns into an arena of communication that is simultaneously familiar and foreign to the different visitors in the exhibition.
One element that runs through the entire exhibition is the treatment of the museum space as a mansion – a giant, modernist, round house and a sort of “little brother” to the Guggenheim in New York, built during the same era. The museum entrance leads into the upper space of the exhibition, where one may find the children’s quarters – a space in which “everything goes”: a fanciful room by Gil Yefman; a translation of poetic/erotic texts into sign language by Romy Achituv and Orit Kruglanski; Tal Shoshan’s choreography of invented signs to the song “Badad” (Alone) by Zohar Argov; a ventriloquist act by Imogen Stidworthy; or Chaplin’s speech from “The Great Dictator” signed by a headless orator, in the work by Jordan Wolfson. Further on in the upper complex of the exhibition, Trixi Weis’s traffic signs direct the visitor’s attention to act. Between the upper space and the downstairs parlor in a spiral of eight “windows”, the video work of Ira Eduardovna tells a story that takes place in different landscapes and in which the artist is given written and spoken instructions that ultimately lead her nowhere.