In her installation, The Great Seal, Tali Keren invites visitors to step into the shoes of the main speakers at the annual summits of the American organization Christians United for Israel (CUFI), held in Washington D.C. in 2015 and 2016. The Christian evangelical organization, founded by pastor and leader John Hagee in 2005, has millions of members and is presumably the largest pro-Israel lobbying group in the USA. CUFI’s vision, premised on the idea that Jewish rule over the Land of Israel is a precondition for Christ’s second coming, links apocalyptic prophecies to current political affairs. Its annual summits are attended by thousands of devotees, who listen to speeches comprised of political texts and biblical quotations, by Republican politicians, Israeli MKs, senior members of the organization and religious leaders.
The main component of Keren’s work is a teleprompter: a screen with scrolling text placed in front of a speaker (the President of the USA, a TV reporter, etc.) so that he or she could speak uninterruptedly and directly to an audience, or to the camera. For The Great Seal, the artist created an operating system based on the teleprompter’s mechanism and reassembled it with screens, video footage, and oral instructions. Viewers are invited to take an active part in the summit by walking towards the “rejected seal,” stepping onto the rostrum, and following the instructions heard on the headphones. Instead of analyzing, interpreting, or speaking about the event, the artist invites you to feel for a moment like one of the main speakers at the event.
This work continues Keren’s ongoing exploration of the interrelations between art, propaganda, religion, and politics. Using different techniques and media, she investigates the psychological and historical-visual complexity of ideological apocalyptic outlooks in relation to political processes and examines their impact on the individual and the public.
Tali Keren (b. 1982, Jerusalem) uses various techniques and media to explore political phenomena in Israel and the USA and delve into their psychological, historical and visual complexity. She graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem (2006) and earned an MFA from Columbia University, New York (2016). Her work was shown in museums and art spaces in Israel, Europe, and the USA, among others, at the Jewish Museum, New York; Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen; the Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon; Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art; and Hansen House, Jerusalem.
Curator: Yael Messer