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Inside-Out. Contemporary Artists from Israel

Inside-Out. Contemporary Artists from Israel


7 July 2006 - 8 October 2006
At the exhibition galleries on the ground floor
Tuesday to Saturday (holidays included), from 11am to 9pm. Sundays, from 11am to 3pm
MARCO, Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Vigo
Octavio Zaya

Works exhibited

This group show gathers up to 54 works: 45 photographs (Adi Nes, Sharon Ya'ari, and the series by Keren Assaf, Ori Gersht, Miki Kratsman, and Rona Yefman), 4 installations (Varda Getzow, Eliezer Sonnenschein, Gal Weinstein, Nadav Weissman), 2 videos (Guy Ben-Ner, Sigalit Landau) and 3 videoinstallations (Yael Bartana, Ori Gersht, Talia Keinan).


To complete the Museum's exhibition programme for the following months, MARCO of Vigo presents the group exhibition INSIDE-OUT. Contemporary Artists from Israel, curated by Octavio Zaya, included on the group of exhibitions produced by MARCO -four out of five- organized until now by the museum over 2006. The show coincides in time with the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel.

The curator has chosen a selection of 14 artists who has not been at all chosen as the representatives of Israeli art, but as a sample of the complexity and diversity of contemporary art in that country, with subjective visions, with their contradictions, multiple senses and interpretations. It tries to get closer to the character and sense of the artistic practices and production of a group of contemporary artists from Israel. Far from any institutional speech or any attempt in order to politic instrumentalization, there is on the other hand a clear intention of contributing to a better diffusion of the work of some artists -most of them emerging artists who begin to stand out in the international scene- who for different reasons are almost unknown in Spain.

The fact is that it is really difficult to mention the name of Israel without being irremediably linked to questions that, very little or nothing, have to do with the intention of the exhibition project. "In fact -quoting the curator's words for the catalogue- every single thing that has to do with Israel has been already marked or signified in a way in our modern conscience (...) As we all know, the realities in which is inspired and debate, where it finds and loses, those that Israeli contemporary art makes go beyond or ignores-or by Israeli artists around the conditions and vicissitudes of artistic practise in a country on a constant state of emergency - are tragic and extraordinary."

This new generation of artists seem to have overcome the Zionist idea of the unity of Israel, but the works on the exhibition have a an element in common: they pay attention to the idea of territory and landscape, that still remains a constant. Landscapes and visions of nature are landscapes and visions of the human being, where ideas and approaches meet around the fragility of existence. From the allegoric view of the tree felling shown in Ori Gersht's videoinstallation The Forest to the landscape/memory in Varda Getzow's installation, a powerful presence full of memories shows us that nature has memory from the past. From Gal Weinstein's recreation of a mythical for the Israeli people as it is Lake Huleh, to Sharon Ya'ari's documental photography, with that sensibility in relation to the abandoned and deserted, to the seemingly lazy and without singularity. Finally, Miki Kratsman's Territory Series would have no sense without the general context of her works on the occupied territories.

On the other hand, Keren Assaf's idealistic and pintoresque view of the American-Israeli dream, the place of the individual in a city like Tel Aviv in Yael Bartana's video, Guy Ben-Her's diary of a shipwrecked, Adi Nes' aestheticist and symbolic images of the Israel troops, and also Rona Yefman's images about human sexuality and the relationship between the individuals and their bodies, with the landscape and the social environment.

Finally, magic spaces like Taila Keinan's curl on a constant transition or the magic of the perfect balance -just as a trick- in Eliezer Sonnenschein's mountains of playing cards, with a fragility similar to that of Nadav Weissman's installation, dwelled by ‘characters' existing in a dimension half-way between childhood and maturity. And also, poetic references to mortality, vulnerability, boundaries, frontiers and, by extension, to the idea of territory and to the conflict between Israel and Palestine, in Sigalit Landau's video.


    Adi Nes
    Eliezer Sonnenschein
    Gal Weinstein
    Guy Ben-Ner
    Keren Assaf
    Miki Kratsman
    Nadav Weissman
    Ori Gersht
    Rona Yefman
    Sharon Ya’ari
    Sigalit Landau
    Talia Keinan
    Varda Getzow
    Yael Bartana

Curatorial text

"On the one hand, it can be asserted that the society and culture in which art from Israel flourished, the society and culture which informed it until well into the eighties, were marked, one way or another, by the principles of the Zionist ideal and myth, the consequent creation of a collective identity, the preservation and imposition of a uniform, common ideological front and the development of the vast and ambitious project of settlement. On the other hand, it now seems evident that, in the society and culture in which its contemporary artists articulate and debate today, they no longer sacrifice their expressions of difference, their individualities, their paradoxes or their conflicts on behalf of a universal idealistic façade. At any rate, the contemporary art from Israel that has been created, particularly since the nineties, and that which has been able to project itself abroad in the past decade, conveys the same sort of plurality, fragmentation, instability and contradictions characterising that of any other modern society experiencing and undergoing the questioning and transformation of its established and dominant identity brought about by continuous waves of migration, economic and cultural globalisation, and the dissemination and ubiquity of information and new technologies.

Therefore, the artists presented here neither constitute a block circumscribed to a national ideology, nor to a collective vision or a uniform aesthetic trend. Beyond the preconceived ideas and assumptions, prejudices, presuppositions and preconceptions, clichés and other notions we may have of their creations, none of them could simply be identified as "Israeli," or reveal any identifying characteristics or patterns shaping a cultural idiosyncrasy or stereotype. On the whole, the origin and context in which these selected artists develop, unfold and project their practices and their creations, their concerns and efforts, are no longer invested, absorbed, in the hope or the dreams of a common utopian society. Conceivably, the complexity and multiplicity made manifest in their works is inspired, perhaps decided, by varied and distinct conditions, circumstances and factors that are related to and characterised by the diverse cultures, languages, religions and political visions shaping Israel today.

If something characterises this group of artists as a whole, if there is something that identifies them, it is a tension between the reality in which they live, between the reality they suffer, experience, construct, shape and recreate in their works, and the inner commotion of their subjectivities. Even when they refer to social and political situations and themes, what they represent, what they project, is mostly a disturbing proposition, sometimes contained, sometimes silent, frequently indirect and always oblique, always transcending the particular and the specific to transform the concretion and reality of the Holocaust, war, terrorism, occupation and insecurity into subjective fictions of violence, fear, death and anxiety, which equally engage us all. The inwardness turns inside out, exposing, revealing the entrails of its anxiety.

Maybe it is the proximity of the trauma that causes the reality in which the Israeli artist lives on a daily basis; maybe it is the fear of simplifying, of exploiting, of exoticizing, of aestheticizing, of mistaking reality for fiction. Whatever it is, none of them seems willing to allow the constant and arbitrary whirlwind of reality, its uncertainty and its insufficiency, to undermine the extraordinary power of the imagination, to allow the chimera of the latter to succumb to the yoke of the former, as yet another one its instruments. For all these creators, art is a place of extreme ambivalence. And regardless of how many times we attempt to clothe this ambivalence with a different gap, and we shift from the effort to describe and contain the sublime to an argument of the political implications of the power and expediency of art, we will always be drawn to art as if to a spectre, the ghost of a past that still excites us and the haunting possibility of a future we think we desire. These Israeli artists eclipse temporality itself even when they try to historicize it. And as the impossible object of our conscience, the art we present here floats away into thin air as absence. If this were not so, it would only be the presence of our utter failure."


Octavio Zaya
Exhibition curator
[Fragment of the text "INSIDE-OUT: Incertitude without Illusions. Between an End and a Beginning, between Anxiety and Speculation", included on the exhibition catalogue]


Octavio Zaya

Born in the Canary Islands and based in New York since 1978, Octavio Zaya is an independent curator. Advisor of Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, MUSAC (León, Spain) and co-director of Atlántica, a bilingual quarterly magazine published by CAAM, Canary Islands, he belongs to the editorial board for NKA Journal of Contemporary African Art (Cornell University, N.Y.) and Lab 71 (N.Y.), an electronic art magazine on the web, and is a US correspondent for Flash Art. He was one of the curators of Documenta 11 (2002), as part of the curatorial team under the direction of Okwui Enwezor, and one of the curators of the 1st and 2nd Johannesburg Biennial (1995 and 1997).

During 2005 Zaya presented several exhibitions: After the Revolution. Contemporary Artists from Iran -Koldo Mitxelena, San Sebastián, 2005 and Kunstforeningen, Copenhague, 2006-, Carmela García: the Hole in Space -CAAM, Las Palmas, and Centro Juan Ismael, Fuerteventura, 2005-, and Shirin Neshat: The last Word -MUSAC, 2005; CAAM, 2006-. He is currently working on an exhibition, bringing together several video works by Jesper Just and also on a survey of the video-installations of Candice Breitz. In addition, Octavio Zaya is organizing the 1st Biennial of Photography in Petach-Tikva, Israel.