Collaborative Project with Keren Anavy
Composition for Stones of Gold
Gallery the Cultural Institute, Mexico-Israel, Mexico city.
This exhibition will be Keren Anavy’s and Tal Frank’s second collaboration in Mexico, since their recent relocation from Israel to Mexico City and New York. While working individually, they have also established a collaborative practice which they have been developing for the past six years, mainly in Israel. In this exhibition, they continue with their ongoing investigation on the relationship between nature and culture through the lens of specific sites and locations.
Using stone as their material and subject matter, they investigate notions of durability and fragility in different sites in both Israel and Mexico. This show will include various mediums the artists are engaged with, including sculpture, painting, drawing, sound and video art.
Exploring ways in which landscapes become extensions of sites and cultures, they concentrated primarily on archeological ruins in Mexico and Israel. Their point of departure is the sixteenth century Mexican aqueduct, Padre Tembleque, a Roman-based water conduction built with Mesoamerican construction techniques, on which the sculpture in the middle of the gallery is based. By creating this sculptural maquette, they also reference the Roman aqueduct in Israel, and thus link these two sites to the long-term water scarcity currently existing in both countries.
This early infrastructure, which is the foundation of modern water transportation today, also speak to the way water passages, whether above or underground, creates borders and define territory, the catalyst of major political disputes and conflicts. Resembling an architectural model and at the same time referencing an archeological site, through this sculpture, the artists accentuate the contrast between two conditions: built and destroyed.
In addition, this exhibition contains seven large paintings by Anavy and a video work by Frank. Anavy depicted stones from an area located west to Jerusalem in central Israel Modi’in—adjacent to an ancient Biblical site believed to be the place of Jewish revolt against the Greeks. Working vertically and packing the picture plane with piles of rocks, Anavy directs the viewer’s gaze from bottom to top, as though standing in rubble. The lack of vegetation in the paintings, as well as their monochromatic color palette convey stillness and drought. In Frank’s video, we are presented yet with another historical site in the Judean desert, Masada, known for one of the most controversial uprising in Jewish history, where an extreme sect of religious Jews chose a mass suicide over surrendering to the Romans. Screened on the gallery’s wall, the video shows a tower-like structure being struck by stones, and a few moments later, stones are being tossed in response. This constant action of rock throwing is evocative of an unarmed population protesting a governing power’s authority, noticeably evident in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The scattered Pyrite stones on the gallery’s floor evoke the appearance of an archeological site and furthers notions of destruction and renewal, themes presented throughout this exhibition. Using this particular stone, also known by its epithet “Fool’s Gold” due to its mineral’s superficial resemblance to gold, this disillusion represents “a yearning to another place, a new place, a utopia, and similar to the yearning for gold, is out of reach,” according to the artists. Like in the other works in the show, her too the stones are represented in their raw form, suggesting a shattered surrounding on one hand, but also alluding to the likelihood that one could build something new from these fragments.
Text by Shlomit Dror
Collaborative Project with Keren Anavy & Quayola
Feinberg Projects Gallery
Video Installation, Ink Drawings & Mixed Media on Wood
The gallery space is transformed into an environment that is simultaneously natural and artificial. The installation contains sculptures by Frank and drawings by Anavi placed side by side, reflected one upon the other and also impacting each other. Quayola’s video installation fits in this setting naturally – he too explores the tension between the real and the artificial, the simulated. Anavi’s drawings climb on the gallery’s walls as climbing vegetation would, composed of individual fragments that together create the resemblance of a complete drawing, surrounding, climbing on the spectator, bursting out everywhere. Frank’s sculptural installation is composed of mirrors placed on the floor, cut into shapes reminiscent of water drops and wavelets, manually engraved with geometric shapes that create the illusion of fractures or freezing on the mirrors. Quayola’s video work depicts a moving object based on an original art piece brought to life. Drawing and video are reflected on the gallery’s floor, creating endless frames of intersections between works, observable from any angle in the gallery. Within the installation, chunks of wood by Frank, processed, artificial-looking and massive, resembling umbrellas, lay on the floor, as if cast aside after a storm.
The integrated body of works create a fictional surrounding after an aesthetic apocalypse, enabled by the language of art. Through their common dialog the artists deal with the relations between the whole and its parts, abstract and concrete. Relations originated from time and movement, and from attempts at discovering and establishing new, unpredictable regularities.
Collaborative Project with Keren Anavy
Dan Gallery for Contemporary Art
Ink Drawings and Objects cast Aluminium and Swarovski Beads
The inspiration for Hothouse, our joint project, is the hothouse as both a visual and metaphorical image, as a locus and breeding ground designed to rule nature and organize it. In our exhibition, the hothouse is expropriated from its original use, while the gallery space is made into an arena of research whose derivative objects are cultured and managed only in appearance. The starting point for our project was the ecological greenhouse established by artist Avital Geva in Kibbutz Ein Shemer in 1977, together with Rafi Shapira.* The eco- greenhouse at Ein Shemer, which remains active to this day, is an innovative learning environment for environmental studies, art and further disciplines, and serves as an experimental site for social and artistic research.
In our project we have constructed a kind of fictive breeding ground for gems and artifacts – such as diamonds, which are a recurrent theme in our work. But while hothouses are normally designed to regulate nature and manage the cultivation of its products, our art hothouse yields forms and objects that break the fundamental pact with nature – objects that, in terms of their materiality and treatment, tread the thin line between control and the loss of it: The black ink drawings that hang on the walls outline an arena of confrontation in which ink is to be tamed and mastered, despite its essential fluidity; and the various sculptural objects scattered on the floor, which at first sight seem as ceramic vessels made at the potter’s wheel, are in fact aluminum casts devoid of any utility, and are suggestive of production and industry.
Our use of the ink drawing technique, along with that of metal casting, introduces a dimension of play between the governed and incidental, the contingent and planned, and between attempting to discipline matter, to rule it and camouflage it as another – and ultimately succumbing to it. We aspire to offer the viewer an experience that conveys a longing for a new order of things, a different, alternative framework where the beautiful is confronted with the ugly. This experience finds its expression in finely-made artifacts, even as they maintain a degree of deliberate roughness. The monochrome that
dominates the exhibition, whether in the stylized minimal ink strokes or in the excess ‘chatter’ the hothouse generates, brings about an equivocal system where beauty is mixed with morbid overtones. The hothouse depicted in the drawings is therefore something of a floating, unfounded utopia, which indeed seems to lack any hold on the ground in any of the drawings. It appears rather as a complex, laden site, as a surreal sphere of an ever straying reality, or as a novel framework where form and content are cast into shape.
The works on display reference geometric and architectural structures on several levels: The hothouse structure in the ink drawings, with its inclined roof and geometric water basins, also echoes the diamond-like structures it houses – emblems of wealth and felicity, which also represent an unattainable ideal of flawless order and symmetry. In contrast, the sculptural, ceramic- seeming objects evoke cinerary urns or stupa monuments – Buddhist burial shrines, their mound-like domes growing pointed spikes that carry phallic significances, but are also symbolic of death. Despite first appearing as containers or as objects rooted in traditional pottery, they are in fact completely sealed and therefore without any use value – but rather the vegetal mutations that have sprouted in the fictive hothouse. These are containers unable to contain, decorative items that fail to embellish their surrounding space.
The new ecological order proposed here is a seductive and enchanting one, where diamonds glitter and decorative vessels grow – an order that generates new concepts of beauty. But it is also a disrupted ecological order, whose objects of beauty posit an illusion abound with contradictions: The mock ceramic urns, made of cast aluminum, were produced using sand molds which lent them the somewhat faded, ragged aspect of archeological finds dug-up from the ground – as surviving relics of an ancient-futuristic civilization. Only partially polished, they appear at times shiny and at times coarse; beside them are heavy iron balls evocative of led weights or old cannon balls – aggressive objects suggestive of a masculine world of warfare and industry, despite their feminine ‘diamond’ embellishments; and this while the ink drawings, which leap into the gallery space, break the conventional
rules of display. The choice of paper, as a support for the array of images they carry, is designed to offer an alternative route within the actual exhibition space.
The main themes tackled in the show are those that preoccupy us in our individual artistic practice. We are concerned with notions of beauty and with the creative process, one that is motivated by the ‘cultivation’ and generation of ideas and things of beauty, as well as the role or error and coincidence within this process. In our sculptural wall piece, which consists of a cluster of oversized ink splatters that appear to have been carelessly splashed on the wall, it is this allegedly accidental ‘error’ that seems to have generated this new form of beauty. This ‘error’ takes its place within a carefully constructed work of art, where each such stain was meticulously hand-made and hung on the wall according to a carefully devised pattern. Our hothouse, as a site of both alchemy and trial and error, enables us to bring about these fruitful contradictions, with which we may question and challenge the accepted notions of beauty in the art world.
Tal Frank and Keren Anavy
*A Kibbutz is a communal form of settlement unique to the Zionist movement in Israel. It is founded on socialist values, equality and the sharing of economic and resources and ideas between its members.
1 bag up to 23 kg, 2013
Berliner Liste 2013, Booth A2.03
The project is a representation of the “take only what you can carry” predicament: All sculptures exhibited were transported in my suitcases on a tourist class flight from Tel Aviv to Berlin. What to take? How to choose? In his Boîte-en-valise, Duchamp packed his whole life. I understood on hindsight that I chose objects related to my past, nostalgic represenations of childhood memories and feelings. But the project is also a metaphor through which I refer and relate to several pressing socio-economic and psychological issues faced by artists as myself, such as striving to make a living out of art, and living in the periphery while always contemplating emmigration to the center.
Aluminium Casting 35/29/32 cm
How much farther 2011
Collaborative Project with Ran Bar-lev
121 Gallery For Contemporary Art,