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Michal Helfman: Forgive My Bad Memories

Part of Conditions of Political Choreography

Michal Helfman takes inspiration from the banal repetitivity of the washing machine as a metaphor for cycles of conflict. Helfman draws a parallel between political agendas and their metaphors of purification, cleansing, color separation, and whitening as symbolized in the washing machine. Political narratives often crystallize through processes of commemoration and the ways we process conflict after it has been resolved. In Helfman’s work, the typical washing machine cycles of “delicate,” “normal,” and “intensive” are paralleled with commemoration, remembrance, and forgetting. “Normal” refers to times of stability, after the event that is commemorated has happened. It relates to common methods of commemorations (e.g. monuments, rituals, etc.) and to normality as a state where shapes are stable, established and static, and when terms such as passiveness, pluralism, detachment, political correctness, generalization, disengagement, etc. take root. “Intensive” relates to a time of conflict, when forms break down or change violently, when bodies are engaged. It relates to heating, spinning, and color separation. “Delicate” asks if terms like “hand care” can be at all included in the scope of a machine. It suggests thinking of commemoration as an open form that refuses to consolidate in the shape of monuments and rituals. Delicacy excludes both normality and intensity; both are caught in a repetitive mechanism. It is about particularity, and the negation of the idea that a catastrophe can be summed up. Michal Helfman (b. 1973, Israel, lives in Tel Aviv) lives and works in Tel Aviv. Her solo shows have been presented at KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; P!, New York; the Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and the Israel Museum. She participated in numerous international exhibitions including the 32nd Sao Paulo Biennial; the 50th Venice Biennial; Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin; the Institute of Visual Art, San Francisco; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino; and the Institute of Visual Arts, Milwaukee.

Photography: Asaf Saban

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