YAEL BARTANA | CAST OFF
Identity, nationhood and belonging at FMAV
Cast Off is on: the solo show by the Berlin and Amsterdam-based Israeli artist Yael Bartana (b. Kfar Yehezkel, 1970) is presented at Fondazione Modena Arti Visive.
Yael Bartana has been mentioned as one of the best artists of Artissima 2019 in Art Super Digital Collectors Guide
The exhibition, curated by Chiara Dall’Olio, features photographic works and five videos placed throughout the Sale Superiori and the Sala Grande of Palazzo Santa Margherita. Identity, nationhood, and belonging are the central themes of Bartana’s practice: how does national identity operate as a means of inclusion and exclusion? What are we talking about when we talk about national identity, rituals and practices?
The Recorder Player from Sheikh Jarrah
Exhibition Yael Bartana, The Recorder Player from Sheikh Jarrah (2010), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive
The exhibition opens with the black-and-white video: an activist plays a recorder before a human chain of Israeli army police officers, who are lined up in front of demonstrators peacefully protesting the eviction of Muslim residents by Jewish settlers from neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.
Tashlikh (Cast Off)
Yael Bartana, Tashlikh (Cast Off) (2017), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive exhibition
In the same space, the 2017 film Tashlikh (Cast Off) presents objects and symbols belongs to men and women who have suffered persecution and genocide in the last century, the Jewish, Armenian, ex-Yugoslav People, and those of African countries. The title Tashlik, which means to throw away, refers to an ancient Judaism practice, usually performed in the days that lead from the end of the old year to the beginning of the new one, where the sins of the previous year are symbolically represented by an object thrown into the water. In this work, Yael Bartana lets personal items such as clothes, photographs flow back to the ethnic groups, which fall from above on a black background as if they were in the water.
Summer Camp | Avodah
Exhibition Yael Bartana, Summer Camp / Avodah (2007), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive
The show continues in the Sale Superiori of Palazzo Santa Margherita with the double projection of Summer Camp / Avodah (2007). Summer Camp shows the activities of ‘The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions’ (ICAHD); their actions consist amongst others of rebuilding Palestinian houses in the occupied territories. In the summer of 2006 Bartana filmed a group of ICAHD volunteers consisting of Palestinians, Israeli and various other nationalities, assisted by Palestinian construction workers, who were trying to rebuild in the village of Anata (east of Jerusalem) the former house of Abu Ahmed Al Hadad at exactly the same location where it was demolished by the Israeli authorities at the end of 2005. The result is a phenomenally edited 12 minutes image and sound composition in which Bartana uses the same stylistic devices as the Zionist propaganda films from the first half of the twentieth century. It refers directly to Helmar Lerski’s film ‘Awodah’ from 1934-’35, proclaiming the dream of a Zionist state, which is projected on a second screen.
Exhibition Yael Bartana, True Finn (2014), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive
Screened on the same floor is True Finn (2014), a documentary style film asking eight people from Finland one simple question – who is a true Finn? Invited by and working in connection with Finland’s Pro Arte Foundation, Bartana’s objective with True Finn was to create and record an utopian moment that would yield an answer to this question.
As a result of an open call, eight Finnish-residents came to live together for seven days in a house in the countryside. The condition was that each person had a different ethnic, religious, and political background. Life, discussions, and specifically designed assignments were filmed, with the edited material forming the core of the artwork.
Exhibition Yael Bartana, A Declaration (2006), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive
The video A Declaration (2006) is part of the collection of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena. ‘A Declaration’ takes place in the southern seashore of Tel Aviv, on the invisible border between that city and Jaffa. The Israeli flag waves on ‘Andromeda’s Rock’, which alludes to the Greek mythological figure sacrificed by her parents to save the kingdom, following her mother’s sin of pride. A young man rows a boat carrying an olive tree and replaces the Israeli flag with the tree. One cannot ignore the charged meaning of this specific tree in both Israeli and Palestinian societies. The name of the work attests to the action itself: on Andromeda’s Rock, Bartana replaces the Israeli flag with an olive tree. While this is indeed an act performed in a media context, it nevertheless takes place in the sphere of Israeli reality.
The Missing Negatives of the Sonnenfeld Collection
Exhibition Yael Bartana, The Missing Negatives of the Sonnenfeld Collection (2008), Fondazione Modena Arti Visive
The last room houses the photographic series The Missing Negatives of the Sonnenfeld Collection, where Bartana selected photographs from the extensive archive of legendary photo journalists Leni and Herbert Sonnenfeld, who documented Palestine / Eretz Israel in the years 1933-1948. Adopting that same heroic style, Bartana re-staged the original photographs with the help of young Arabs and Arab Jews, who are currently residing in Israel. Portraying her models as beautiful, joyous, hopeful farmers, workers and soldiers. The series creates a utopian moment that challenges the ethos of the Zionist movement.