Hilla Ben Ari: Phoneme


31.3.2016 – 21.5.2016

A phoneme is the smallest part of the linguistic system, a unit within a structure that contains no meaning by itself, but that in context does manage to create presence and sometimes even to accumulate a certain kind of political power.  The phoneme, then, is a mute, detached sound, but nevertheless a sound.  It is its own timeless space (like femininity), while the linear, historical continuum builds a meaningful process upon it.

The mute entity is always located within a space of trauma.  It’s a trauma that doesn’t exist as an event, nor is it located on a chronological axis that has any pre-, during, or post.  It is a static space that exists continuously, in which femininity (or other minorities) is entrapped, right here, in this place.

Within that, the known feminine failure exists in the creation of separateness.  The (Oedipal) process of separation that should lead to establishment of identity and creation of a basis within the social order, is not properly realized.  Instead, there is detachment, an immanent condition of femininity within this cultural prop: she who has attempted to become separate is detached, as well as one who remains connected, who risks loss of self, whose detachment is only camouflaged within the continuum of things and events.

Each of the video works in the show supports a detached bodily duration that appears incessantly and accumulates through its own collection, nearly without change.  The pitch of the works is blocked, marked or expressed in sequence, seeking to exit from within spatiality (the body) to the axis of consciousness. They constitute a physical, auditory expression that sustains a stubborn effort to create a presence, while always remaining saturated by the pain of negation.

Hilla Ben Ari, March 2016


Hilla Ben Ari, 1972, has presented solo shows at the Museum of Art in Ein Harod, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MACRO) in Rome, the Herzliya Museum for Contemporary Art, and others. She has participated in many group shows at museums and galleries in Israel and abroad.  She has won The Kolb Prize from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2014), and the Prize for Encouragement of Art from the Ministry of Culture and Sport (2012).  Similarly, she has received support from the Lottery Council for Culture, Artis, Outset, and the Ostrovsky Family Fund.  Her works may be found in collections at the Tel Aviv Museum, Israel Museum, the Schocken Collection, Bank Discount Collection, and more.  Ben Ari holds a BFA from Bezalel (1999), and a Masters from the Department of Literature, Tel Aviv University (2006). She lectures at the Institute of Art of Oranim College, and in the Ceramic Design Department at Bezalel.


View the works on Artsy