Out of Place

Bartana - Mur i Weiza

Out of Place
Curated by Noah Simblist
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Austin, TX
January 15, 2011- March 5, 2011

For more information including installation images click here

The exhibition will include six international artists, many of whom rarely exhibit their work in the US, more often showing in Europe or the Middle East. For instance, this will be the US premier of Yael Bartana’s film, Mur i Weisa (Wall and Tower), last seen at her recent solo exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

The premise of the exhibition is related to Edward Said’s description of his memoir Out of Place (the namesake of the show) as “a record of a lost or forgotten world.” He was referring to the Palestinian condition of exile – a displacement that creates a gap between both physical spaces and states of mind. But this notion can be thought of in more general terms, serving as the starting point for a group of artists who explore placelessness as it is manifest in Israel-Palestine. Being in one place, but consumed by the memory of another, produces works that are uncanny, combining familiar and unfamiliar contexts into something strange.

Yael Bartana’s film Mur i Weisa (Wall and Tower) imagines a scenario in which a group of post-Zionist Jewish pioneers return to Poland to build a kibbutz not far from the site where the Warsaw Ghetto was located during WWII. This work reverses an actual history in which Eastern European Jewish colonists traveled to Palestine in the 1930s to build settlements on Palestinian soil.

Nida Sinnokrot’s West Bank Butterfly plays with the mapped image of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, territories that are symbols of Israeli occupation and Palestinian psychogeography. He turns them into a kite in the form of a butterfly that is native to the West Bank and is now an endangered species.

Following on this notion of flight and transitional spaces, Jan Tichy’s Dahania is a miniature model of the short-lived Palestinian airport built in 1996 during the optimism and nation building that immediately followed the Oslo Accords. Dahania was later destroyed by the Israeli air force in 2000 as a response to the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

Eric Van Hove, sets his video Common Ground in an abandoned synagogue in Johannesburg, South Africa, a nation whose apartheid system is often compared to the occupation of Palestine. Van Hove writes a list of words that describe the sense of mutual exile that both Jews and Palestinians have experienced in white chalk on the floor.

The Irish artist Tom Molloy reproduces the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, drafted in 1967 after Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Its letters are hand cut out of green paper – the color of the 1949 armistice line that was crossed in both physical and metaphorical terms.

Oded Hirsch’s videos and photographs construct a world where enigmatic figures engage in ritualistic actions that are both tragic and absurd. Shot in the north of Israel, these figures read as if they are stuck in limbo, evoking Samuel Beckett or the myth of Narcissus.

Out of Place reflects on a political situation but transcends the limitations of journalism, proposing instead the surreal consequences of real world struggles where the “lost and forgotten world” becomes a liminal space, somewhere between here and nowhere.

This exhibition was co-sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History’s Visual Arts Center at The University of Texas.