The films and sculptures of Assaf Gruber (*1980, Jerusalem; lives and works in Berlin) deal with the interplay between the ideologies of individuals and their personal biographies; in his practice, he investigates the way in which such interplay shapes and influences private and public spheres. Often using black humor, but with an affectionate touch, both towards art history and his protagonists, Gruber’s artworks inspect how the political orientation of institutions impact the lives of individuals and how biographies both disguise and disclose inherited ideologies.
His solo exhibition at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo premieres Transient Witness, a two-part video, whose main ‘protagonist’ is the avant-garde art collection of Egidio Marzona, which comprises nearly 1.5 million items, including some of the most canonic artworks of the 20th century by artists such as Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and El Lissitzky – whose work is a prime source of inspiration in Gruber’s practice.
Structured into two parts – Deprived Witness and Rude Witness – Transient Witness explores the common features and necessary distinctions between art collections, archives, as well as the various materials and cultural substrata that enable their existence; in doing so, the work narrates the transfer of the objects from the private house of the collector in Berlin to their new domicile – the Japanisches Palais, a Baroque building part of the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden – through the eyes of three main characters: Christina, the manager of the collection; Maurizio, the art mover who comes to collect the works; and Präsens, the collector’s dog. Christina and Maurizio’s perspectives represent the human entanglements, desires, frustrations, and excitements generated by the intimate encounter with valuable objects, whereas Präsens’s position tells the story, ‘as is’; in other words, it depicts a reality in which values and morals change and in which the attention simply cannot be put only on an aesthetically seductive works of art.
“Assaf Gruber: Transient Witness” is guest-curated by Stefan Aue, Marcelo Rezende, and Pieter Vermeulen and was developed in cooperation with Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in Berlin in the frame of “The Whole Life: An Archive Project.”
The presentation in Tel Aviv, managed by Nicola Trezzi and Bar Goren, is accompanied by an artist talk in Hebrew on July 3, exhibition tours in Hebrew on July 10, Arabic on August 21, and English on August 28, a lecture by Tanya Sirakovich on August 11 and the private view of El Lissitzky’s “Chad Gadya” at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on August 18.
Transient Witness is co-produced by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (Germany), Krieg in Hasselt (Belgium), the Botín Foundation in Santander (Spain), CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo, and Outset Contemporary Art Fund; additional support to the presentation in Tel Aviv provided by Iris Rywkind and Eran Ben Zour; special thanks to Artport, Tel Avi; drinks provided by Malka Beer.
Transient Witness, 2021
Video, installation view at CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo
Photo: Eyal Agivayev.
Transient Witness, 2021
Courtesy of the artist
Assaf Gruber: Transient Witness
August 28, 2021
July 2, 2021