Nature Vs. Culture. French anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss was firm in the argument of a divide, writing that there existed “only two true models of concrete diversity: one on the plane of nature, namely that of the diversity of species, and the other on the cultural plane provided by the diversity of functions.” According to Levi-Strauss, “the symmetry postulated between nature and culture involves the assimilation of natural species on the cultural plane.” (1962) In contemporary times, scholars in the discipline have equated the divide with a male—female symbolism. In this group of works, Dana Levy, Shahar Marcus, Nezaket Ekici, Gilad Ratman and Tommy Hartung are referring to this ideas from different perspectives. By using the moving image medium,they created a array of portraits of different ideas of humans behaviour. In Dana Levy’s works, the human presence can’t be seen in a direct way, but his presence is there. In Shahar Marcus and Nezaket Ekici we can see the relationship between the human to nature, to female and man and in Gilad Ratman works, the human become a live sculpture. The work resists and challenges customary acting practices, choosing to problematize a viewer’s understanding of what it means to perform for the camera. Tommy Hartung deconstructs and analyses cultural narratives. In the video Lilith, his interest is in demons, which represent a self-contradiction and a dimorphic appearance. Today many see Lilith as a feminist symbol.
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Established in 2004, Braverman Gallery is a leading member of the contemporary art scene in Tel Aviv, specializing in video-art and installations. The gallery seeks to bring Israeli artists to international audiences by promoting its artists worldwide. Recent projects include Nira Pereg’s installation at LAX, LA, as well as a solo exhibition “ISHMAEL” (2016) at Braverman Pop-Up Gallery in New York City, Ilit Azoulay’s and Katharina Gaenssler participation in the MoMA group exhibition “Ocean of Images: New Photography 2015”, Bracha L. Ettinger’s solo exhibition at the Istanbul Biennial (2015), and Gilad Ratman’s participation in the 55th Venice Art Biennale, representing Israel (2013).
The gallery has an international focus, with projects such as Grazia Toderi in 2018, Tommy Hartung’s “LILITH” (2017), Robin Rhode’s first Tel Aviv Museum exhibition “Under the Sun” (2017), Leandro Erlich’s “Mirrors” (2014), and Kate Gilmore’s “Built to Burst” (2011).
Braverman Gallery has also encouraged exciting and cutting-edge projects from Israeli artists such as Oren Eliav’s “How to Disappear Completely” (2018) and Ilit Azoulay’s first solo exhibition in the Israel Museum “No Thing Dies” (2017), both at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Owner: Yaffa Braverman
Partner, Director and Curator: Adi Gura
The video work “seeds” deals with mines that are still buried in the ground after the war was over. From a beautiful top-shot the camera follows three professional mine-removers. They move slowly in meditative movement in a no men’s land desert. They look for mines, find some and remove them. This act leaves a visible trail which the artist, dressed as a pioneer, follows, while sowing seeds, from a small bag (refers to Millet famous painting) on the same track the mines were removed from. The sowing as a healing gesture suggests a new hope to come.
King of Falafel
The work “King of Falafel” is a continuation of Shahar Marcus’s video works that deal with Israeli cultural symbols, manifested by various food rituals. The current work takes place on the moon and depicts a fictional event – the opening of a new falafel stand. The video begins with a wide-shot of space and continues with Marcus, dressed as an astronaut, landing on the moon. After getting ‘lost in space’ he finally notices a flag and realizes he has reached his final destination. Thereafter, he opens an inflatable falafel stand and puts up his own flag with the inscription: “King of Falafel”. After struggling with the making of the dish, his ultimate success is celebrated with a triumphal ‘selfie’. This humorous piece, shot in the spirit of ‘space adventure’ films, touches a few historical and contemporary socio-political issues. The major theme of the work is the discovery and conquest of a new frontier. This theme plays a major part in the Zionist ethos and the early formation of Israel. It also echoes the history of America and the Western European Colonial past. By depicting an astronaut who is wearing a white suit with blue stripes that resembles the Israeli flag, Marcus reflects on a contemporary ‘Colonialist’ phenomenon in the shape of Israeli tourism. This phenomenon is mainly expressed by the opening of Israeli food venues abroad as a form of cultural compulsion. As opposed to the European Colonial worldview of enforcing their ‘superior’ knowledge upon the local pop
Shahar Marcus primary works in the medium of performance and video art. His initial works dealt with the exploration of his own body and its limitations- incorporating various perishable materials, such as dough, juice and ice. His body served as an instrument, a platform on which various ‘experiments’ took place: lying on the operating table, set on fire, dressed in a ‘bread suit’ and more.
Food is also a major theme in Marcus’s works. For instance, his recurrent use of bread as a symbol of essentiality and survival is juxtaposed with military symbols. By working with food, a perishable, momentary substance and by turning it into a piece of clothing or a set, Marcus also flirts with art history; transforming arbitrary objects and materials into something immortal and everlasting.
For Everglades (2014), Dana Levy ventured deep into the wilderness of the Everglades National Park at night. She projected vibrantly colored lights onto the tropical vegetation using a generator she had carted into the jungle, and recorded the stunning but eerie setting. The ominous soundtrack accompanying the immersive video projection is composed from sounds of environmental atrocities, such as fracking. The work reflects upon humankind’s disastrous attempts to shape and control natural phenomena. -Barbara London curator
In The Wake, Levy explores the freedom that hides in such museums. The still butterflies eventually awaken and escape their cells. The work becomes a symbol of revolutionary awakening. The deathlike silence of the stuffed animals, encased in glass dioramas, is broken by a group of white pigeons or butterflies invading the museum. In this way, the work creates a sense of tension between the animals in flight, which represent nature, and between the lifeless exhibits, which reflect man’s concern with ordering and categorizing knowledge–a human pursuit that involves sterilization and death.
Dana Levy was born in Tel Aviv Israel and lives and works in New York.
She earned her MA in Electronic Imaging at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art Dundee, Scotland and her BA from University of the Arts London: Camberwell college of Arts
‘Lilith’s sound track is taken from a trance voodoo ritual, in which women dance and become vessels for a certain kind of divinity summoned by the music. In the film, this dance is described as a children story, with toys and colorful lights. The experience of trance is usually described as abstract rather than following a clear narrative. Accordingly, the camera work and editing are abstract and open for interpretation rather than fostering a linear story. The work also draws inspiration from films of Pier Pasolini and the cartoonist R. Crumb.
Tommy Hartung (b. 1979, Akron, OH) currently lives and works in New York. He received his BFA from SUNY Purchase in 2004 and his MFA from the Columbia University in 2006. Hartung’s work was recently featured over the last two years in a major solo exhibition at the Rose Art Museum in Waltham, MA and in the 2017 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
In Methexis, a video performance by Nezaket Ekici, the “Dead Sea” is the starting point. Directed with her face down, the artist is floating in an oversized white dress. Her hair and her arms are spread out, visibly lying motionless on the water. On her dress, white flying balloons are attached. This creates the illusion that the artist is held floating above the water as if the balloons are lifting her body towards the sky, indicating a life after death. Poetically she is in between this world and another, pulled down by gravity and at the same time levitated by the balloons: on the border between life and death. The Dead Sea’s name comes from the high salt concentration in the waters, making life almost entirely impossible. By doubling the symbolic importance of the Dead Sea combined with the death-like floating on the water, the artist makes visible the idea of transcendence that is inherent in the Dead Sea.
Nezaket Ekici (born 1970, Kirsehir) has lived in Berlin and Stuttgart, Germany, since 1973. Many of her performances, installations, and videos are inspired by her dual German-Turkish cultural heritage.
“The idea, the thought, the draft are the bases for my artwork. My ideas come from everyday-life situations, social and cultural atmospheres. The idea expresses itself in performances and installations. I use the body as a means of expression. Sometimes, the artistic idea is expressed using the body alone; at other times, the body is used as part of the installation and within the context of a presentation to an audience. The subjects I deal with are time, movement, space, material, body, and action/interaction. I try to create works of art that leave for the viewer free space for associations and new possibilities. I take specific situations from everyday life and place them into a new context. I aim to create an art where all of the elements are interconnected so as to form a total work of art—a Gesamtkunstwerk.”
For this piece, Pereg spent time studying a flock of the zoo’s flamingos. She discovered particular qualities in the behavior of individual birds by setting up situations in which group responses were expected. Employing various camera angles, the artist offers sumptuous close-ups of these exotic animals calmly going about their instinctual business. Over the muffled noise of the birds’ squawks and clucks, she adds a provocative soundtrack of intermittent, startling noises, implying human disturbance of their peaceful realm. The result evokes a sense of suspense in the viewer, while calling into question the relationship between what is seen and heard.
Pereg’s multi-channel video installations challenge the status quo of any territory she immerses herself in. She anchors her work in documentary practice. However, in order to challenge the traditional role of the “real” verses the “artificial” Pereg developed her own language of editing in which a studio produced sound track questions these images, and a multi channel presentation juxtaposes events and space. This particular aesthetic intervention plays a crucial role in the work’s spatial presentation, and heightens a constant discomfort with “the way things are”. The merger of spirit and matter, as it is coexist in public spaces of religious/political/military presence, serves as a platform for Pereg’s interest and involvement in the social manifestations of systems and structures which influence our lives.
The Days of The Family of The Bell
The Days of the Family of the Bell advances Ratman’s investigation of performance and the impossibility of deciphering the real from the make believe. Using the camera to subvert traditional narrative techniques and to create a gravity-defying spectacle, Ratman’s video draws inspiration from cinema’s earliest moments. In 1907, before the advent of sound and before the invention of Hollywood, Segundo de Chomón’s short film, Les Kiriki, shared with audiences an acrobatic feat. Ratman collaborates with professionals, amateurs and friends to re-imagine Chomón’s vision and in doing so, shows us a world where the ‘poetic and pathetic coexist.’
Gilad Ratman’s films and installations, in the artist’s own words, “aim to deal with untenable aspects of human behavior by exploring the appearance of pain, struggle, and the wild.” His narrative sequences are dark explorations of political and social subject matter, frequently employing disorientation, discomfort, inversion of cause and effect, and confusion to provoke their viewers. Themes in Ratman’s work have included social power structures, mass media, and collective understanding. The sources of his inspiration, the artist says, lie within his own identity, wrapped up in the politics and history of Israel. Representations of nature recur in Ratman’s work, frequently as a hotbed for human activity.