WhiteLand.

Yael Yudkovik & Efrat Shar

Light Sculpture, Video Art

2001

"A White Swarm of Strange Dreams"2 (Arthur Rimbaud)

 

In the exhibition titled "WhiteLand", installation, video works and drawings, are on show. Both in a panoramic view of the exhibits and in a focused contemplation, the principle of diversifying the method is conspicuous. The method creates clear lines of resemblance among the works - a motif inside which nuances are woven and a voice formulates itself. A womanly voice, of two women artists, in what is their first joint exposure.

The "White Swarm", with all its variables, is gathered into an environment that evokes a distant memory of primordial nature, like vestiges of stone sediments, or perhaps evidence of an ancient magic rite - and at the same time it evokes a futuristic sense of rounded and pointed hillocks, planted in the wilderness of an alien, virginal planet.

"Beyond the mountains and the hills, beyond the six-pointed stars"3 (Maya Bejerano)

The bodies are made of clay, an organic material that comes from the earth. The clay mixes bodies are heavy, rigorous, stable, anchored in the soil, connected with the earth of the place.

However, the clay does not remain bare and raw. In the central installation work (which has the same title as the exhibition), it is dipped in white lime. The whiteness refines the mass, blurs the identity of the material, sharpens the mystery. The white lime projects a neutrality, a primal purity, that are simultaneously modernistic and futuristic. An ascetic cleanliness. A frozen sense of contraction. In the milky frost, the objects resemble a landscape of thawing snow, or of icebergs that float, dissociated, in a silent sailing motion, sliding over the concrete floor, as though over gleaming ice.

This illusion of floating is also evoked by a number of compositions in the catalogue.

The free editing of the photographs clarifies conceptual aspects. It severs the object from the architectonic cube, releasing it towards an undefined expanse, eliminating concretization - in this case, the influence of the force of gravity. The heavy bodies seem to be hovering, weightless, like celestial bodies in an illusion of cyclical motion. Cosmic meteorites in an interplay of contraries - of close and distant, revealed and concealed, illuminated and dark, fragmented and consecutive, divided and whole.


 

"… Who fashioned man with wisdom, and created within him many openings and many cavities"4 (Talmud / Sidur)

The clay dough is moist, sensual and fleshy. It yields submissively and gently to the fingers that dig vigorously, to the tool that meticulously imprints signs, to the knife that incises, to the spike that pecks monotonously. With a cyclic persistence, like sea waves that break on cliffs of chalk rock, eroding the stone and forming pores and recesses. But in contrast to the endless wearing away of material in nature, in culture, since the most ancient times, there exists the aspiration to shape an object that will last, to preserve it relatively as it is. The processing heat of the kiln tempers and fixates the clay. Malleable modeling clay hardens into solid object.

The opaque mass of lumpy clay is transformed in an act of voiding.

The essence of the works entails a dichotomy: empty - full / full - empty. Between the two extremes a visual language establishes itself.

 

The full opens up to the empty with an abundance of orifices. The perforated covering is compressed and intensive. It comes into being through patient, industrious work. The works are built as an envelope of clay that is chewed, nibbled, gnawed. Penetrated with emotion, in more than one sense. It seems that the artists' intimate touching of the clay speaks about an inner, psychic reality. A stomach that is empty - full. An existential emptiness that feels a need to be filled. An enigmatic broaching of configurations in the opaque shell.

"Where light grew for us, before our breath"5 (Paul Celan)

The landscape of quarries creates a still, motionless, frozen atmosphere. Except that the light, which fills the empty space and bursts outwards, produces a shift. The light charges the objects with wakeful, living content. Mute masses of stone, fossils, become receptacles of life.

The light breathes. The lighting and extinguishing of the light in a slow rhythm projects an equation: light = oxygen. The object appears in two different ways: lit up and extinguished. Between these two states a changing relativity is created - between the external light that strikes the object and the light that emerges from it. The element of light sharpens the duality between exterior and interior, between envelope and contents.

The objects become dotted with spots of light, which make them look like structures that house living creatures. A protective covering resembling a conch or a turtle's armor. an architecture of ants' nests and beehives. A desolate rocky landscape turns into an inhabited ridge, speckled with gleams glinting in the darkness. Thus the space around the objects, too, awakens to life. The light leaks and disperses, and the environment is resonant with a radiance of auras, light-reflections and shadows.



 

"And nothing is, but what is not."6 (William Shakespeare)

Together with the clay works on display in the exhibition, video works are on view.

In contrast to the objects, the creation of which begins with a given mass of clay, the point of departure in the video works is the void. Visually: a blank screen, and also technically: the sights are produced from feedback interferences, a resonance response, a void that cyclically feeds the void. A void that fills the screen.

The video is shown on two separate screens, each screen presenting a black-and-white film in a cyclical sequence. Issues such as the landscape, the empty and the full, the light and the darkness, the frozen and the living, are translated into a dynamic-rhythmic dimension that provokes a dialogue between the static presence of the objects in the space and the development of the movement on the screen.

The two films in the video- work aim to take the viewer on a journey through the landscapes

of WhiteLand. In one of them the motion is linear, as in travel, and in the other it is concentric, as in a whirlpool. The abstract spectacles (together with the soundtrack that includes a sampling of an astronaut's breathing in space) connect with a narrative of a meditative journey. A journey of wandering. A quest. A concentrated listening to an ongoing inner resonance.

 

"I hear that they call life our only refuge"5 (Paul Celan)

WhiteLand proposes a haven. A closed world, detached from reality.

In Tel Aviv, Winter 2001, detachment from the life of the real world has a meaning that is political, escapist. But the exhibition being presented by the two artists in the "white cube" does not aim to make people forget their knowledge of what is happening outside, in the realms of the real land, nor does it aim to present a critical position of dazzling and dangerous whiteness. It seeks to give the viewer an experience. To stimulate sight through a pre-verbal view. There, in the WhiteLand that dwells within, poetry is an absolute reality.

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 Ben Yehudas st 176, Tel-Aviv, Israel

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