On a Clear Day
Photography: Ephrat Beloosesky
On a Clear Day\Barbur Gallery, Jerusalem Nov -2018
Adi Weizmann, Noa Tavori, Dorit Figovich Goddard
Curator: Abraham Kritzman
Adi Weizmann, Noa Tavori, and Dorit Figovich Goddard are solo artists who have been working together since 2011. Until now, their collaborative work has taken place in abandoned sites, where they created sculptural actions that intervene in and respond to the spaces. As a group, they have worked in places with history and character, for instance the old police station/building in Tel Aviv (Inside, 2011) and a private house awaiting demolition at Ramot Hashavim (Half Board, 2011). They find a piece of reality they can interfere with, an abandoned space that is empty of life but rich in the specificity of details, which are the residues of the lives of its former occupants. The locality and specificity of the site offer them a space for reaction and intervention.
The situation is very different in Barbur Gallery – an active, living place with a “white cubesque” exhibition space, whose purpose is to change with each exhibition. And so, in this exhibition, the artists adopted a different approach, setting out to bring fragments of everyday reality into the gallery. Through sculptural processes of conversion like replicating using molds and casting, material transformation, and turning objects on their sides, they transform them into architectural elements associated with everyday life. The artists wish to create an environment where reality has stood still; "a sculptural landscape" as the artists call it. The objects and materials were culled from local daily life: a wardrobe, cactus plants, and elements of domestic interiors and urban exteriors, such like marble railings and fences. The objects serve them as a means to point at the implosion of internal and external systems. They display alienated objects that were removed from their source – phantom objects of sorts. The separation from the source and its conversion to something else wishes to allude to the inherent danger in a violent attempt to take over reality.
Before entering the exhibition space, the visitors encounter a low wall placed by the artists in front of the entrance to the gallery, forcing them to walk around it. The foreign wall inside the courtyard and the garden is made of old Israeli construction materials and is joined by sculptures of cacti like the ones often found in local gardens. Nevertheless, it is fundamentally foreign to the surroundings in which it was placed. In its position, it functions as a shadow, prefiguring the system inside the gallery.
After the encounter with the wall, the entrance to the exhibition passes through a wardrobe that wishes to transport the viewer from one place to another. While in Narnia, the children are transported through the wardrobe into the fantastic realm, here its purpose is different: it does not carry the viewers to a mythical or mythological world but rather back to our reality, in its alienated version. In this sense, it brings to mind the horror/sci-fi miniseries The Langoliers, where a plane returns a fraction of a second back in time, and upon landing the passengers discover a dead world, where life has passed them by and all that remains in the realm of the past is still. According to Stephen King in the miniseries, life is anchored in time and when you disconnect from it, you arrive at a reality where there is nothing but lifeless desolation. This brings us once again to the question: What happens to objects and images when they are disconnected from their source, when they undergo alienation?
Inside the gallery we come across an inflatable sculpture that occupies a large part of the exhibition space. It presses against the ceiling beams, which do not allow it to float higher, thwarting its will to ascend. It is heavy and wishes to drop down and requires support – like one of the melting objects in Salvador Dali's painting. It embodies the duality inherent to the desire to give weight and volume to an ephemeral element – elusive and transient like a cloud or fog. The gallery also features concrete casts of cacti, wishing to capture the surface of the cactus – its specific state on all of its scars and bumps, but create an object that anchors time a moment that has already passed, shifting it to weight and shape. The big inflating object looks as though it hovers above a wardrobe sprawled on its back, its open doors expose its damaged underbelly. The interior of the wardrobe is filled with white wax. The objects are extracted from their time to a constant moment – a shell of eternity that imbues reality with a 3D presence.
In Uri Nissan Gnessin’s impressionistic short story In the Gardens there is a feeling of time that stood still. Gnessin repeats the words “quiet”, “silence” and their other synonyms countless times. He paints a picture of a silent, motionless garden, unbearably heavy, all flickers of light and atmosphere that weighs down on the protagonist to the point of collapse. He builds a scene aimed at exposing the violent event that ends the story. In Gnessin’s case, the protagonist is rootless and wandering, whereas the violence is the product of permanence – of perseverance. It belongs to a state of always. The exhibition On a Clear Day wishes to characterize a state of stagnation and perseverance through the presence of a duplicated reality, the fixed mechanical noise of the object’s inflation and deflation, the endless repetition of the sounds of fighter planes dropping over our heads, and the persistence of domestic objects that also turn into the shells of nature – standing still in the face of the commotion.
When we return to read Gnessin’s story, we discover that the violence lies in the mise-en-scène: in the descriptions of the landscape, the lighting, and in the nature of the memories that overwhelm the protagonist as he sails on the lake. Such an image of a garden prompted the artists to adopt the image of a "sculptural landscape," whose silent space becomes the violent moment that stood still.