While former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon lies comatose in a Tel Aviv hospital, his body will be on display at the city’s Kishon Art Gallery beginning Thursday.
In case you were wondering, hospital attendants haven’t carted Sharon’s body to the exhibit. The “body,” a life-size, animated sculpture replete with hospital bed, drip and blue pajamas, is the work of Israeli artist Noam Braslavsky. The installation, which “breathes” softly, depicts the lifeless pallor of the 82-year-old statesmen, who has been in a vegetative state since suffering a stroke in 2006.
Call it what you want: quirky; morbid; blasphemous. But Braslavsky assigns the exhibit a dual purpose, both emotional and political. “Sharon is kind of an open nerve in Israeli society, which activated all the spectrum of emotional feelings to what being an Israeli is,” he told Reuters.
Kishon curator Joshua Simon said the sculpture, which has open eyes, is “an allegory for the Israeli political body — a dependent and mediated existence, self-perpetuated artificially and out of the inertia, with open eyes that cannot see.”
That may sound like curator gobbledygook, but the political message has stirred up controversy. According to Raanan Gissin, a former Sharon spokesperson, the former prime minister should be remembered as a vigorous political figure.
“I don’t want to remember Sharon as he is now — and this is clearly a vivid reflection of how he is now — but how he was,” Gissin told Reuters. “He was always active, always doing something for better or for worse, but a man in action, a man who’s constantly active, constantly leading.”