The Arty Semite

Did Someone Say War?

By Galia Yahav

Crossposted from Haaretz

More than an exhibition, “Iran” is a gag. Most of the works featured and meant to warn of war, are of a kind of intentional, aware subconscious. The problem is that they really are substandard.

Haya Rukin’s 2008 video piece, “To Kill the Sun,” is one of the few serious, subtle works in an otherwise pretentious exhibit.

“Iran” is an annoying exhibition. Usually annoying exhibitions are much more interesting than ordinary fine, tight exhibitions that are easily digested. The controversial ones are the ones that liven up the occupation with art much more than those that are wary of confrontation. Events that embarrass, infuriate and confuse are rare and welcome.

But “Iran” — showing at the Spaceship Gallery in Tel Aviv — is annoying in a different way. It is annoying because of its tremendous self-confidence that it is just such an exhibit — without any clear signs of an effort made to warrant this. And the exhibit lacks integrity and awareness. It seems like a rowdy late-night event, but one that takes itself seriously.

Read more at Haaretz.com

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Man and Machine, Together and on Display

By Galia Yahav

Crossposted from Haaretz

From the ‘Suspense Escaped’ series by Eden Bannet.

What a pleasure it is to enter a space that conveys relevance of language, even before delving into the details. As soon as you enter Tel Aviv’s Rawart Gallery it becomes clear that “Auto” is an excellent exhibition. There is something in the general look that just says “contemporary,” of the kind you barely see in Israel, expressed in the hanging and positioning of the works that does not try for anemic good manners, but is not vainly ambitious and overblown.

“The works in the show shift between representations of ‘autonomy’ (the ability to make decisions without external influence) to ‘automation’ (mindless mechanical action, controlled by an external source ),” writes the curator, Nogah Davidson, “between works that vary from construction in a private set of rules, existing in an independent to autistic sphere, to works which correspond with the environment that they were created in.” The exhibition, then, breathes new life into the weary theme of the fear of machines in modern times. And it succeeds because most of the works are not illustrations of the theme — on the contrary, the theme is in some cases an interpretation of the works.

Read more at Haaretz.com

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Homage to Nachum Gutman

By Galia Yahav

Crossposted from Haaretz

The connection between Nachum Gutman (1898-1980) and graduate students at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem is not arbitrary, say curators of the exhibition “What Does It Mean to Interpret a Tradition?”

Yulia Rabsky

“Gutman was one of the first students at Boris Schatz’s old Bezalel, and his oeuvre, especially that of the 1920s, has become a part of the canon of Israeli art,” say the curators — Monica Lavie, curator of the Gutman Museum in Tel Aviv, and David Ginton, a lecturer at Bezalel. “The participating students were free to choose.”

Although “land of Israel” painting definitely merits this approach, and although discussion of the canon and tradition is important, the question still arises as to why Bezalel students are taking a particular interest in Gutman all of a sudden.

Read more at Haaretz.com

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