This presentation of new work by six contemporary artists marks the start of the Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations. While the participating artists were all born in Israel, their projects, mostly taking a conceptual approach, were created in far-flung locations.
Gilad Ratman, for example, orchestrated an event in Romania inspired by the American rock group Metallica’s concert in Moscow in 1991, only months before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ratman’s film shows five heavy-metal bands performing in a field, their amplifiers buried in a pit. Distorted sounds erupting from the earth when they play prove an imaginative metaphor for the clash between Western freedom of expression and the stifling of speech and action in 20th-century Eastern Europe.
Uri Gershuni’s print series “The Blue Hour” focuses on the 19th-century photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. Gershuni employed Google Street View to take a virtual tour of Talbot’s lifelong home, the English village of Lacock, then printed selected screenshots as blue-tinted cyanotypes. With details already obscured by Google in accordance with privacy laws, these eerie images give no clue as to where and when they were created.
The exhibition also features Roi Kuper’s dreamlike photographs of the Gaza Strip seen from afar; Ido Michaeli’s handwoven carpet, fabricated in Afghanistan, bearing images from Israeli and European art; Tamir Lichtenberg’s sealed boxes, each containing a month’s worth of his work and sold to collectors for an amount equal to the average Israeli monthly salary; and Dana Levy’s video, shot at night in Florida’s Everglades National Park, that combines sounds of oil drilling with scenes of floodlit nature.
A concurrent historical show in the museum underscores the insularity of the Israeli art world fifty years ago. Here, the curators effectively demonstrate that the country’s contemporary artists are, by contrast, engaged in a lively global discourse.
A version of this story originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 93.