Pinpoint: Hilla Ben Ari, Sheffy Bleier

Photographer: Ami Erlich

PINPOINT/ Hilla Ben Ari, Sheffy Bleier

3.9.2015 – 24.10.2015

Curator:  Yham Hameiri

Pinpoint” is a joint exhibit by artists Hilla Ben Ari and Sheffy Bleier in which a series of photography, video and installation works is presented. The show’s works deal with the tension between private and public, with the friction between personal space and social discipline and order.

Through use of different bodily images, Ben Ari and Bleier suggest a different viewpoint, by which they break down the concept of ‘body’ into its components and enable its reassembly. This process is the means and essence of reweaving the concepts of femininity and masculinity, through which a perception of heterogeneity is enabled.  This contrasts with a single, specific unequivocal point of view, which the show’s title “Pinpoint” refers to ironically. The show attempts to offer a possibility by which the core discussion is deflected from the possessor of power toward the one at which that power is aimed, women or the Other. This action enables observation not only as internalization or as opposition, but also as a creative form of an alternative view that emphasizes subjective essence.

In her book “This Sex Which is not One“, feminist theoretician Luce Irigaray argues that the domination of male values is destructive of the heterogeneity and fluidity of feminine sexuality. The attempt to define feminine differentness necessarily reveals that any definition confines women within the masculine system of representation.  Therefore, conceptualization of femininity means a constant search for ways to deconstruct these mechanisms of representation and a change from within of the masculine discourse. This must be done in such a way that the female body can function both as a cultural presence and as a concrete physical presence, which is neither erased nor undergoes objectification. In order to recover the “living, breathing” body within culture, writes Orly Lubin, it must “be represented as alive”, to demonstrate the “fragility of flesh and blood”.

In the video works of Hilla Ben Ari, one can see a kind of “convulsive defiance”: in these two works a body is seen that balances itself with great difficulty with what appear to be tortuous positions.  In one of the works, “Lucretia”, the feminine body appears like a strenuous acrobatic position, stretched painfully in an attempt to fit the formal array around it, moving between flexibility and elasticity and painful rigidity. This work was inspired by the mythological figure of Lucretia, who was raped by the son of Rome’s last king.  Lucretia, wife of a nobleman, swore her family to revenge her death, and committed suicide. Their struggle led to the collapse of the monarchy and establishment of the Republic.  This work echoes the power and the vulnerability of the female body that exists between the private and the public dimensions.  It is a female figure extracted from the ‘public’ dimension, but signs of the social structure are imprinted around it.

In the work “Stand” the leg of a masculine figure appears, with its heel positioned on metal parts that serve as its stand. The body has something of a powerful, monolithic and stable aspect, so that the leg appears as an inanimate object, while at the same time fluctuations of the strained muscle and the flies gathering around it remind us that we’re talking about “flesh and blood.” In another work by Ben Ari a repeating action is seen, of scratching the drum’s surface.  The action of drumming as a harbinger of war, as a warning of quickly approaching calamity, turns here into a bodily image and as a sort of act of digging, searching or amazement. The installation constructed by Ben Ari also shifts between power and vulnerability, and is composed of steel-like support beams actually made from paper. The installation ‘pretends’ to be part of the structure, gripping the walls and the space’s ceiling, raising questions about the relations between supporter and supported, and connecting corporeality with the architectural array.

Sheffy Bleier’s previous show dealt with disclosure of hidden objects – the inner organs of living creatures.  She neutralized these organs from their natural surroundings, disconnected the realistic elements she photographs from their context (from the animal’s body, from the slaughterhouse) and presented them on a new stage and in new contexts in studio photographs.

A unique feminine visual language, filled with gentleness and power, is created in a new series of Bleier’s photographs, exhibited here for the first time.  The surrealistic appearance that stems from artificial combinations that are wrapped in a realistic appearance also exists in the current series of photographs, but here instead of using those inner organs, sculptures appear using a plastic material with which Bleier sculpts the figures and photographs them with their reflection on black Perspex.  She distances herself from the substantive and creates a gentler, more distant view of those internal organs.  A primal language takes shape in the photographs, a new world of objects that were until then invisible, that become covered with skin and tendons as the artist creates them out of her subconscious.  She fashions an entire aesthetic of pre-form and pre-object, sensual fetal objects that with their presence fulfill a duality of outside and in, made from skin-like material, but reminiscent of internal organs, simultaneously enwrapped and exposed. Together with this new aesthetic, they represent an alternative to a new logic, vulnerable yet whole.

Yham Hameiri, September 2015

 

Hilla Ben Ari, 1972, lives and works in Tel Aviv, and is a graduate of Bezalel (1999), the Program for Continuing Studies in Art, Kalisher Academy (2003), and holds a master’s from the Department of Literature, Tel Aviv University (2006).  She has exhibited solo shows at the Ein Harod Art Center, at the Contemporary Art Museum in Rome, the Herzliyah Museum, the Kibbutz Gallery, and also participated in many group shows at museums and galleries abroad.  She has won prizes, including: the Kolb Prize – Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2014), and the prize for encouraging creativity from the Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport (2012).  Her works may be found in collections at the Tel Aviv Museum, the Israel Museum, the Shocken Art Collection, the Israel Discount Bank Collection, and others.

Sheffy Bleier, 1964, lives and works in Tel Aviv. She is a graduate of the College of Art and Tel Aviv University, in the interdisciplinary art program.  She has participated in solo shows at the Herzliyah Museum, Tel Hai, the Ramat Gan Museum, as well as many group shows in Israel and abroad.  She has won prizes, including:  Israel National Lottery (2010), the Yehoshua Rabinovitz Foundation (2009), the prize for encouraging creativity from the Israel Ministry of Culture and Sport (1997), and the Sharett Fund (1989).  Bleier’s works are found in many collections, among them the Israel Museum Collection, Haifa Museum, the Shalom Shpilman Collection, and Dubi Shiff.