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‘Black Rain’ exhibition descends on Tel Aviv’s Edmond de Rothschild Center

CM 19/04/2021


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 A half-formed wax figure with only half a face emerges from a dark pool at the entrance to the Edmond de Rothschild Center (EdR) bearing the chin and mouth of its creator, Noga Farchy. Above the work, titled Hydrophile, looms Synapses: various hanging clothing items artist Monat Khatibe collected from women in Ein Mahil who were infected with coronavirus in the past year – some of whom did not recover. 

The tied garments cover the façade of the EdR Center – which is currently presenting the “Black Rain” exhibition – lending an odd refugee vibe to one of the most generous art foundations in the country, located on the Tel Aviv boulevard with which it shares a surname. The clothes could also be understood as a local version of Tibetan prayer flags – a plea for a better turning of the wheel of Karma after a difficult year.
Following the 1945 American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons, a decision that led to Imperial Japan surrendering and brought an end to WWII, toxic black rain (kuroi ame) fell on the radiation-infested cities. The bleak dystopian connection the term produces in the viewer’s mind is why it was selected as the name of the group exhibition that opened on April 16, explains curator Sally Haftel Naveh. 
“WE ALL live in a dystopian world after 2020,” she told The Jerusalem Post, comparing the current cultural moment to a well-known occupation of science fiction writers, evoking images of a world disrupted by a plague as in the 1949 classic Earth Abides by George R. Stewart or the recent 2015 novel The Water Knife in which Paolo Bacigalupi describes how a massive drought re-shapes society.
In a brief text written for this exhibition Yonatan Liraz asks, “What lends science fiction its critical force?” and mentions two well-known theorists, Carl Freedman and Darko Suvin to suggest the answer lies in how dystopian fiction compels us to imagine ourselves in an alternative reality that, unlike finding a magic ring or genie lamp, could actually happen. 
Inspired by science fiction, the exhibition is not about the genre as much as it “employs science fiction to discuss dystopia,” Naveh explains.
In the 2019 mixed-media work Fauna, artist Niv Gafni created an arrangement of mechanical units that resemble a flock of birds and emit cries while looking rather silly. While this is intended, it is not silly at all to consider that in the near future humans might resort to building mechanical birds or bionic bees to attempt to repair some of the damage done to the natural world by the rapid annihilation of species.

Visitors enter a lively space as, on the same hall as the chirping Fauna, is a stately-seeming grandfather clock designed by May Zisman and Ofer Romano. The clock has a plastic buttocks where the hours should be with a mechanical bird hitting it to mark the passage of time. Titled Nurit Forever, the clock is a part of a larger installation with a flock of sock-made pigeons arranged around the clock and a street lamp that was shattered by some unknown force and yet still burns with electric light. Combining the elaborate dark humor of Claude Serre and the feeling that the birds are discussing the long-gone humans, much as the dogs do in the 1952 novel City by Clifford D. Simak, one should not miss it.  
“We wanted to put things that are usually outside like the pigeons and the street lamp indoors,” Zisman explained.
“Even the movement of the mechanical bird is opposite, as usually the bird departs from the clock to announce the time. In our work it is the other way around, the bird is attempting to enter the clock. But no matter how many times it attempts to do so it will not be able to,” Romano adds.
A SPECIAL space with fresh strewn earth and tree stumps was created for the screening of Pit Intrinsic by Tal Mezuman. The stunning art video follows three characters – two males and one female – as they attempt to survive in a post-disaster world and eventually fail and die. The soundtrack created for it combines a Jew’s harp and a didgeridoo to create an otherworldly primitive feeling as the figures attempt to fend for themselves in a rubbish-infested world dressed in garbage.
“This is all real junk I found at Hof HaBonim,” Mezuman told the Post, “There are three characters: the woman who is wrapped in plastic and cannot breathe, the man who attempts to collect fruit and make something from it and another man who keeps beating his head against the wall in frustration.”
The work marks a shift for Mezuman, who until recently placed himself on both ends of the camera in art-videos like his 2017 Pain and created self-portraits of himself next to medical pills or an open refrigerator packed with food as he attempts to fight the compulsion to eat. 
Mezuman does not shy away from discussing depression and anxiety and points out that, on a deeper level, the characters in his film were abandoned to get in a world where garbage is their only source of food and fuel.
A VERY different work is Dimui-Gouche by Ron Asulin, who reintroduces metal to the local art scene. Metal sculptures, usually meant for the public, became associated with Menashe Kadishman and Ya’acov Dorchin, who produced monumental works. Asulin uses metal, pipes, sewer caps and plastic bags to create a light-hearted piece that uses one of the most iconic brands in Israel, Dead Sea products, to suggest a sort of nomadic re-appropriation of it after a massive social breakdown. 
Just like with Nurit Forever, which uses the movement of the broken street lamp, Dimui-Gouche uses a bicycle that crashed into a pipe to suggest movement.
“In the southern parts of Tel Aviv such plastic bags” with the smiling face of Mariah Carey “float around like some evidence of a long-gone ideal of what a consumer should be,” Asulin said. “Here, they are returning to the city center.”
One of the things that make the EdR Center unique, says manager Iris Nitzani Avivi, is that they offer artists and curators who are starting their artistic lives payment for their work. 
This is the first exhibition to open after the extended COVID-19 disruption. During a normal year, the EdR typically has four art exhibitions and two design shows.
The activities of the EdR Center promote the values of excellence, diversity and leadership held by the Rothschild Foundation and reflect the longstanding commitment of the Rothschild family to support the arts.  
‘Black Rain,’ a group exhibition with Tal Mezuman, May Zisman and Ofer Romano, Noga Farchy, Niv Gafni, Ron Asulin, Mona Khatib, and Michal Luft, will close on Friday May 28 2021. The EdR Center is on 104 Rothschild Blvd. Tel Aviv. Opening Hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free. Visitors must follow the Health Ministry’s guidelines. Works by Tal Mezuman can be seen via his site: https://talmezuman.editorx.io/talmezuman

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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