Photography: Oren Shalev
November 1 – December 17, 2012
Opening reception: Thursday, November 1, 8pm
In his poem “Morning song”, Alterman gushes out and with a conspicuous passion and promises the young nation of Israel:
“ I will clothe you in a dress made of concrete and cement!”.
This dress so to speak, was one of the most amazing saviors that the residents of Israel could have then wished for their country, since the land quickly filled-up with an array of wondrous monumental buildings and cemented walls, all erected in the name of that very passion.
These buildings, much like a great deal of Israeli monumental sculptures, represented the rhetoric of an authoritarian premise, an idealistic endeavor to glorify and sanctify, articulated through ‘very obvious’ concrete.
The Utopia out of which the concrete buildings in Israel where built and which is ingrained within every step and aspect of their construction, signified an active response that strived to apply radical means in order to break out of the despair and build a reformed and stronger society.
The Utopia may well transform into a horrifying prophecy when it manifests in reality, as was the case in more than one occasion during the Twentieth Century. The frustration and the despair that leads to the creation of the Utopian dream, contains within its obligation, forces that diverge from the accepted rules of the game, transforming it into a powerful element. The hopeless turn to the Utopia as an ultimate rescue fantasy.
The culture of despair, one from which utopia comes into being, seeks to convert the system of norms and values of hegemonic culture into a different one. Therefore it is necessary for Utopia to glorify its ambitions by wrapping itself with a myriad of miraculous stories.
Such a glorious breadth resonates in Alterman’s poem which prompts the Israeli nation with a zealous cry:
” If the way is difficult and betraying,
If more the one will fall to defeat,
Forever we will love you homeland,
We are yours in battle and labor ! “
The intension behind these words, which at the time sounded clear and authentic, was pulverized under milestones composed of the complexity and difficulty over which the nation of israel “resides”.
Segal’s reliefs where casted as images derived from the ‘New age’ sensibility which also promises miracles and wonders. The New age imagery is worn-out and re-cycled and it underwent many incarnations which subverted it into a kind of “shell” of its original meanings. These images, much like Utopian new age culture present an illusory invitation to ‘connect’ to them, to ‘flow’ with them and to empathize with their meaning. Yet here, by default, this proposal radiates with a synthetic vacuous sound.
Segal’s combination between the ‘vacant’ image and the Utopian Zionist association that is expressed through the faux cement and asphalt materiality which symbolizes an inseparable aspect of the israeli landscape, speaks of the vanishing of the ethos and the emptying of the image from content and meaning. Never the less, paradoxically, the images refuse to remain flattened – they forcefully extend out of the walls, demanding new and independent lives for themselves.
When facing the image that is accentuated by the gray relief, the viewer is coerced by Segal into wiping away his/her layers of defense form the worn-out feeling that follows a sense of melancholia, emotions that often creep up and encompass him/her in the Israeli environment.
Through the subtle irony contained in the works, he resurrects a fresh view that is devoid of staging and does not flatten reality, but rather, accentuates the vitality it embodies, in all of its dimensions.
Yam Hameiri, November 2012.