With Blind Steps

Language:

With Blind Steps

With Blind Steps

Curator: Judith Lenglart


Artists: Avraham Eilat, Gideon Gechtman, Yoram & Alina Gross, Haim Maor, Joshua Neustein,Georgette Batlle&Gerry Marx, Dov Or Ner, David Perlov, Yocheved Weinfeld.

19.7-26.9.24

Tue-Thur 13:00-18:00, Fri 10:00-14:00

“Still lying on his back, eyes closed, he sank deeper and deeper into bottomless caves, further and further into a past beyond history. 

The thought crossed his mind that this wasn’t the first time. The world had existed and collapsed many times before. Men themselves had destroyed it, blown up space. 

You can still hear those screams.”

Leib Rochman, Mit blinde trit iber der erd

 [With Blind Steps Upon the Earth], (Tel Aviv: Menora, 1968)

With Blind Steps Upon the Earth (1968) by Leib Rochman, born in Poland and based in Jerusalem, tells a story about a Jewish Holocaust survivor who wanders through ruined European cities after World War II while hallucinating absent familiar places and faces that he longs for. The exhibition, which cites Rochman’s book in its title, echoes the writer’s hybrid approach to memory, trauma and place. It includes short films, videos, and photographs by Israeli artists made in the 1970s and early 1980s, a period during which performance, body art, and video art emerged in Israel. Experimenting within these media, young Israeli artists found new ways of expressing the performativity of memory. In these works, which are simultaneously incantations, poems, and hallucinations, remembering is both an action and a state of mind: it is primarily to follow incomplete images constantly metamorphosing. Through these works, the artists of this exhibition express their complex experience of conflicts within place (“here” and “there”), time (now and then), and between oneself and others – the inevitable disruptions of consciousness. 

The exhibition presents photography (Haim Maor, Joshua Neustein, Georgette Batlle & Gerard Marx, Dov Or Ner and Yocheved Weinfeld) and moving images, putting together different genres, such as experimental film and video art (Avraham Eilat, Gideon Gechtman, Haim Maor), documentary film (David Perlov), and animation film (Yoram & Alina Gross). Here, video art, which just emerged at the time on the Israeli art scene, is neither a simple documentation tool nor “the postmodern medium par excellence” (Fredric Jameson), but a visual language of dream, memory and consciousness. Far from fitting into codes of collective memory or positivist ways of looking at history and identity, all of the artists use alternative, personal, and often fragile practices of relating to memory and trauma. 

Many of the works on view are film or photographic documentation of performances, mostly by the artists themselves. In these performances, the artists primarily use the body as a tool to reenact or relive what seemed invisible or vanished. These artworks constitute avant-garde and experimental expressions embodying traumatic memory which precede by almost two decades the 1990s’ post-modern treatment of Shoah memory in the Israeli video art scene. 

The exhibition “With Blind Steps” highlights the unavoidable confrontations of shared traumas, such as the Holocaust and the Yom Kippur War, with issues of identity and gender, as well as artists’ personal experiences. We often consider conceptual art as tautological in nature, reflecting on art itself, and body art as a tabula rasa medium. However, this exhibition approaches these works not only as exponents of Israeli avant-garde aesthetics, but as performative gestures that reactivate visual constellations from the past and demonstrate the mechanisms of memory and trauma.

This exhibition is part of a PhD research on Holocaust memory in Israeli video art since the 1970s, in an international cotutelle between the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Department of Theater and Performance Studies) and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Department of Arts and Languages), Paris, France. The first part of this research explores the first film and video experimentations addressing Holocaust memory and trauma.

Production: Mamuta Art and Research Center | Artistic director: Lea Mauas | Project manager: Naama Mokady | Technical director and exhibition setup: Eitan Haviv | Graphic design: Maya Shleifer | Arabic translation: Anwar Ben Badis | Hebrew editing: Inbal Keidar |  English editing: Judith Appleton | Exhibition space coordinator: Gil Godinger

The curator wishes to extend special thanks to Dr. Anne Lafont (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) and to Dr. Diego Rotman (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) for their wise and generous guidance throughout my PhD research; to Ruth Debel who opened her door with love; to Vivian Ostrovsky for the fascinating dialogue and special support; and to the Mamuta staff for their incredible accompaniment and production.

The exhibition includes nudity and images that’s not suitable for children. Their entrance is under the responsibility of the parents

Opening Event > 19.7, 12:00 Facebook event