Yochai Avrahami: Uzi

In the summer of 2007, during a stay in Weimar, Yochai Avrahami learned about the beginnings of the Bauhaus movement and the establishment of the Bauhaus school of modern design and architecture in the city. At the same time he also learned that Uzi Gal, inventor of the Uzi sub-machine gun, had been born in Weimar as Gotthard Glas. Embarking on a detective-like mission, he began to trace Uzi’s past, the house in which he grew up, the places where he worked and studied, and his branching family ties. The point of departure for the process was the idea that the Uzi weapon, known for its clean, modern design, inherited the Bauhaus “genes.” Avrahami constructs a historical narrative which is possibly real, possibly fictive, by means of a selective editing of facts, feelings, and views voiced by people involved in Uzi Gal’s life in various periods. He moves between different sites in Germany and Israel, perusing archival materials. A fragmented story is spun from the various people and places, which at some points seems to touch upon historical facts, and at others becomes confused and subjective. The life of the Jews in Germany before the Nazi rise to power, kibbutz life in those years, the relationship between the native-born Israelis and the refugees who had fled Nazi Europe, In the midst of all these, the period’s architecture, design, and art play a major role, functioning as a tool with which to establish associations between the spheres of art and warfare. Five departments, the likes of which may be found in factories or art schools, define different wings in the space of the exhibition “Uzi”: Weaving, Architecture, Print, Metalwork, and Photography. The material, formal, and narrative elements comprising the show were borrowed from the different stops in Avrahami’s historical-biographical inquiry. Consequently, the installation appears as if it were constructed with an internal architectural regularity, which dictated its design. The main materials in the installation are metal-framed plywood boards taken from the deserted “Taas” factory, forming a recurring element which defines and divides the space. The display mode recalls the aesthetics of official institutions, such as military and historical museums, or public schools. The screening and sound modes conceal themselves as analogue, conveying a low-tech feel. The projectors serve as lighting fixtures, as in an odd audiovisual spectacle, while historical testimonies can be heard through old dial phones. The exhibits, which in some instances serve as artistic illustration for the speakers’ stories (some of whom are represented by puppets in their image) link the personal narrative of Uzi and his family with the collective Zionist narrative.

curator: Maayan Sheleff

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