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War- the Musical, screening and artists talk

Monday 14.2 at 20:00

(Total: 60:00 min)

Curated by Maayan Sheleff

War is the chief protagonist of this compilation of staged and documentary works made in several techniques: downloading materials from websites; using archival materials; creating and documenting objects and sculptural installations. These techniques reflect the processes and transformations the medium of video art has undergone in recent years, while offering a reflective gaze on the overflow of media images, an overflow that trivializes violence and produces numbness. The war aesthetics emerges along with a good/bad guys’ dichotomy and an attempt to distinguish between the hunter and his prey, and determine who is the victim and what is the sacrifice. Most works range from the national to the personal and are characterized by poetic search for solace. Music plays an important role in these works: on the one hand, it references myths and national narratives and echoes the dominant rhetoric that defines crisis situations and dictates wars; and on the other hand, similarly to a musical that suddenly shifts from the “real” to the imagined in a song scene, it produces an emotional estrangement, and precisely for that reason is able to highlight the grotesque absurdity of escapism. Exceptional, in this sense, is the work of David Reeb that documents, in a terribly concrete manner, the killing of Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahmah by the Israeli military during a demonstration in Bil’in, thereby turning death into an actual and personal experience.

Following the screening there will be a Q&A with the artists: Ady Shimony, Yuval Shaul, Nadav Bin Nun, Yael Frank, and Boaz Arad

Pascal Lièvre

B. Lisieux, France, 1963; lives and works France

Axis of Evil, 2003, 5:35 min

At first sight, Axis of Evil may seem like a musical number depicting a couple’s vacation in America. Set against the backdrop of various U.S. landmarks, two performers sing a pop duet version of President Bush’s address on “The Axis of Evil,” while staring dreamily into each other’s eyes. The work wonders to what extent popular culture has enabled – by simplifying issues and rewarding conformity – the Bush administration’s utilization of fear tactics and social anxiety in their conservative propaganda.

Ady Shimony

B. Israel, 1969; lives and works in Israel

War Dance, 2010, 11:03 min

Between combats, ambushes and structure bombings, soldiers use their night vision equipment, intended for locating targets and documenting their destruction, to document their daily activities. Dancing on guard duty, playing mischievous tricks, team parties, sexual activities etc., everything is documented.

Comprised of materials downloaded from various websites, the work uses multi-channel editing that brings to mind a modern security surveillance monitor. Alongside the soldiers’ bonding activities, the work also features military operational activities, such as targeting and shooting a group of photographers and civilians in Baghdad, whose cameras were mistakenly identified as firearms.

The work addresses the way we watch war events today, as if they were taken in a non-emotional Hollywood set, and demonstrates the horrible ease in which we tend to press the trigger, be it a photographic “trigger,” or that of a gun.

Yuval Shaul

B. Israel, 1961; lives and works in Tel Aviv

El Nuevo Mundo, 2010, 5:38 min

Strange navy destroyers adorned with deer horns sail across the sea, preparing for war; some keep on sailing, while other sink in what seems as both an old and a futuristic documentary. The work consists of archival materials and sculptural scenes staged by the artist. The artist’s background narration quotes texts taken from art reviews dealing with his work. The re-appropriated texts introduce an ironic confusion between the artistic and documentary-historical levels.

Yael Frank

B. Tel Aviv, 1982; lives and works in New York

7 attempts to bring back the sun, 2008, 6:00 min

Grotesque vehicle emerges from behind a mountain in dark landscape. Either a celestial body, or a military armored car, it tugs along, falls down, enters the frame and exits it clumsily. This scene is repeated seven times, in different variations, to the sounds of various verses from the Hebrew song “Giv’at HaTachmoshet.”

Nadav Bin-Nun

B. Israel, 1983; lives and works in Tel Aviv

The Visit, 2009, 10:53 min

A seemingly innocuous visit of an aunt during Operation Molten Lead turns into a cinematic nightmare. Reality shown on TV intermingles with the intrusion of the foreign element into the artist’s protected living space, and red color inundates the screen.

Boaz Arad

B. Israel, 1956; lives and works in Tel Aviv

Kings of Israel, 2009, 10:00 min

Music: C. Oberthür, Orpheus, harp concerto; Harp: Ada Ragimov

Photography: Noi Fuhrer

The work traces the moment of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. In the guise of instructional film explaining how to make a mask and a clay jug, the artist dons the character of the assassin, Yigal Amir. The work oscillates between the national and the personal, between talking about art and analyzing a historical moment. The artist portrays both the assassin and the assassinated to the sounds produced by a harpist, who tries, in vein, to reach perfection.

David Reeb

B. Israel, 1952; lives and works in Tel Aviv

Bil’in 17.4.09, 2009, 7:30 min

This video piece documents the killing of Bassem Ibrahim Abu Rahmah by the Israeli army during a nonviolent Friday demonstration near the village of Bil’in.

Demonstrations against the building of the separation wall and the ensuing despoliation of half of the village’s land, are being held for nearly six years by residents of the village as well as Israeli and international sympathizers.

Beginning at the protest site, close to the separation barrier, the video ends in a hospital morgue in Ramallah.

Lee Nevo & Amir Mayer

Nevo b. Israel, 1984; Mayer b. Israel, 1984; live and work in Tel Aviv

Hatikva, 2010, 3:03 min.

The work was made at the Multidisciplinary Art Department, Shenkar College

A night urban frame of South Tel Aviv metamorphoses into a poetic/pathetic dance and exposure spectacle to the sounds of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikva, dramatically performed by Barbara Streisand at the “Stars Salute Israel at 30” concert.

In the gap created between the Zionist idea and its actual fulfillment, between Herzl and Herzl Street, there is an oblique possibility of existing in a liberated no man’s land, expropriated from the public sphere, if only for one single moment.

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