press release

Fabrice Hyber is among the leading artists in France, a multidisciplinary artist operating in diverse practices and fields ranging from drawings, paintings and objects to videos, installations, and performances. Exhibiting extensively throughout the world, he has gained international recognition and success. Among his most conspicuous achievements one may mention the Golden Lion Award he received at the 1997 Venice Biennale for his work at the French Pavilion, which he transformed into a working television studio inviting audience interaction. In 1991 he created the sculpture Translation which consisted of the world's biggest bar of soap recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. In 1994 Hyber founded a company, Unlimited Responsibility (UR), which specializes in productions and project exchange between artists and companies. Recently he completed a unique project at Parc de la Villette in Paris, an enormous jigsaw-puzzle of drawings on ceramic tiles addressing the fight against AIDS. Hyber explores issues pertaining to volume, scale, biology, methods of operation, and types of communication. His art sets out to examine the way we communicate, and to mimic the endless affinities between ideas. His works attempt to interpret and resolve the complexity of reality by constantly searching for possible, or impossible, hypotheses. Every exhibition is, for him, an experimental workshop. For the exhibition Petrol, Hyber covered the Museum's concrete wall with a monumental drawing of trees on paper. According to Hyber, drawing and painting are the basic stages in all of his works, an immediate expression allowing for the birth of his ideas, reflecting, as it were, the visibility and proliferation of thought. Observation of the free hand drawings usually executed at great speed provides an opportunity to follow Hyber's work process. Petrol also extends outside the museum walls. Hyber performed an intervention on the Eucalyptus tree in the entrance yard, imprinting it with a piece of baobab wood that will merge into the tree in the course of time via a slow organic process. In addition to the wall of drawings Hyber presents several video works, among them his first animation piece (Moon) from 1981, as well as a compilation of five humorous videos pertaining to trees. This group belongs to a video series that presents and illustrates the uses of POF - Prototypes d'Objects en Fonctionnement ("Prototypes for Functional Objects"). For several years now Hyber has been producing and inventing sculptures which are, in fact, mutations of banal, everyday objects. "These are objects which I create before I know what their use might be." The sculptures introduce a new, nonfunctional alternative to objects, shifting their primary meaning. In order to examine and apply the use of POF, Hyber has created short videos (some 150 so far) with French drag artist, Eliane Pine Carrington, who demonstrates their new absurd functioning for the viewer.

Fabrice Hyber (1961) was born in Lucon, France. Lives and works in Paris.

Dina Shenhav Dog, 2005, installation Dina Shenhav constructs a foam forest in the museum's space, simulating trees, soil, bushes, and one dog. She continues to work with her unique material - foam used mainly for mattresses, but unlike previous works where she used it as a surface for painting, here, for the first time, it transforms into a sculptural material and the work's very core. Shenhav responds to a harsh phenomenon prevalent in the world as a whole and in Israel in particular: dog owners wishing to get rid of their dogs, take them to a remote forest, abandoning them there, tied to a tree with little food and water. In some cases passersby manage to save the dog in time, but in other instances it is too late and the dog cannot be saved. These days a bill is being processed by the Israeli Parliament that would prohibit the abandonment of animals, making the offender criminally liable for the act. Shenhav's forest is not realistic. Its trees grow from the floor, but they are also suspended from the ceiling by threads which create a web of sorts, as if they were marionettes. The texture and color of the foam remain exposed and faithful to themselves. "The natural color of the material (foam), the visible links, the exposed practice - all these are intended to enhance the sense of 'soft' horror, the theatrical sphere, and the compassion, or rather, its absence," the artist explains. The sight revealed is one of a generic, uniform forest without hierarchy or preferences; a forest closed to the viewer, viewable only from a distance. The entire forest is bathed in the foam's yellow hues, infusing it with an alienating, disconcerting atmosphere and a sense of a forest which seems to have frozen and stopped.

Nir Evron One Forest, 2005, 16 mm film transferred to video, 6 min One Forest was shot in the Bialowieza Forest, the oldest forest in Europe, a last remnant of the primeval woodland that has survived since prehistoric times. The border between Poland and Belarus passes through its vast area, marking the eastern border of the European Union. For centuries, large parts of the forest remained untouched by humans, thus many species of unique birds, plants and animals in danger of extinction have been preserved in it. The best known among these is the wild European bison which has been a favorite hunting target throughout history. During World War II the forest served as a refuge for Polish, Soviet, and Jewish partisans, and mass executions were performed in its clearings. Under the Nazi regime, the forest was proclaimed a sacred Germanic site, and Hermann Goring, Hitler's second in command, wanted to transform it into a vast hunting ground. The forest bears a national and symbolic meaning for Poland and Belarus. Being a last remnant of the medieval forest, it has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. In his book Landscape and Memory, Simon Schama indicates the affinity between a given physical setting and the memory and myths concealed within it. He devotes an entire chapter to the Bialowieza Forest, tracing the elements of life and culture concealed in it. Evron's film, originally shot on Super 16, is an attempt to confront the multiplicity of highly-charged historical layers existing in situ, and mainly with the absence of signs surrendering those occurrences. The topography and flora conceal and erase the memory of the past being buried underneath them, transforming the forest into a place of amnesia and pure nature. At the same time, considerable differences are discernible in the film between the greener Russian forest and the Polish forest, attesting to the discussion of nature-culture relationship. Evron leads the viewer on a journey in both parts of the forest, while attempting to trace the history and myths of the place. His position, however, is not neutral-documentary. By introducing a processed soundtrack he constructs a new forest, as it were, at once horror-ridden and sensuous. The sound in the film was added after the shooting phase, and consists of various sources which Evron edited and combined, such as a touristy tape of the forest sounds sold at the national park, sounds from the forest which Evron himself recorded, the sound of footsteps, etc. The transitions between silence and the birds' calls, the footsteps of an invisible figure, and other rustles, render the pastoral atmosphere of the forest threatening, lending it a new, scary and mysterious character.

Eyal Sasson Untitled, 2004-2005, watercolor pencils and acrylic medium on paper and canvas Eyal Sasson confronts the viewer with mysterious, wild woodland landscapes, inviting him into their realms. The landscapes appear like the heart of a tangled jungle. Just as the forest is dense and crowded, so the diligent, assiduous painting technique used by Sasson consists of countless layers of drawing in watercolor pencils laid one atop the other or side by side, generating compact color in diverse tones and shadings. Sasson explores the way in which a photographic and digital landscape panorama can deconstruct back into the language of painting and drawing, operating in two ways: on the one hand he strives to obtain maximum illusive accuracy of painting that applies the laws of perspective, and to create a reliable three-dimensional space based on the classic perception of painting as "a window into reality"; on the other hand, he applies the technique of anamorphosis which distorts the image, enabling its perception only from a specific point of view, or with the help of a cylindrical mirror placed on it. One of the best known examples of this technique is the painting The Ambassadors (1533) by German painter Hans Holbein the Younger. In his paintings executed in this technique Sasson uses a round or elliptical format, the point of view is extended beyond the possible, and the resulting landscapes appear distorted and unreal. In order to create the deformed landscape image Sasson is aided by a computer application which transforms the image according to the anamorphosis perspective. The color scale in the paintings is restricted, using changing hues of green combined with purple and yellow, thus producing a photographic-digital effect. The colors are typified by a phosphorous quality that lends the forests a mysterious, unrealistic appearance. The landscapes in the paintings appear somewhat threatening. Even when Sasson paints according to the scientific laws of perspective, a sense of claustrophobia and disorientation is generated in the painterly sphere, as the forest engulfs the viewer, closing in on him.

Monika Tichacek The Shadowers, 2004-2005, video, 39:49 min The video The Shadowers by Australian artist Monika Tichacek invites the viewer on an uncanny journey in a dark woodland, a type of hellish paradise found nowhere. It portrays a harsh, surreal chain of interactions among three female figures, unfolding a fictive scenario of torture rituals and power games between dominator and dominated, torturer and tortured. Tichacek herself plays one of the characters, a passive victim awaiting her brutal matron who drags her into the depth of the wood, where she carries out her evil scheme. A third figure later joins in, linking with the victim and the trio's cycle of sadomasochistic games. The film oscillates between violence and morbid eroticism, between disgust and repulsion on the one hand, elegance and beauty on the other, pushing the viewer to the limit of endurance, eliciting feelings of discomfort and uncertainty. The film is perceived as a psychological nightmare concealing the fears, secrets and passions of each and every one of us. The characters carry trauma; they may even be regarded as trauma incarnate and as the subconscious reflection of all the phobias, pain, perversions, and evil inclinations. They operate within a sinister, merciless dominator-dominated array, presenting its weak victim versus the blood-thirsty victimizer. One of the pivotal elements in the film is the theme of transitions and metamorphosis. The body transforms into a battlefield, undergoing a series of physical and mental changes. The power relations among the figures and their dynamics evolve and change. The video is interwoven with transitions between interior and exterior, day and night, as well as shifts in the soundtrack from the sounds of a pastoral forest to cries of despair; fluctuations between violence and beauty when a wound turns out to be a flittering precious stone, between man and beast, and between life and death. The cords linking the figures likewise become a channel of communication through which organic materials such as saliva and blood pass. The figures operate according to the codes and norms of an invented, imaginary language describing pain, trauma, and passion. As in a horror movie, the viewer experiences moments of fear and jolting, he is captured in the illusion, moving between dream and reality. In some respect, the work is a radical, perverse continuation of fairytales a la the Brothers Grimm, which are characterized by motifs of woodland, imagination and horror. The artificial, mannerist effects in the film, the kitsch and the sickly imagination reveal a variety of influences. In 2001 Tichacek was an intern in Mathew Barney's New York studio when the latter shot the last film in his Cremaster series. "What drew me to Barney's work was the prosthetic materials and forms he uses to create these gender-ambiguous creatures," says Tichacek. It was these strange, elf-like bodies that I loved." During her stay in New York Tichacek met American transsexual idol, Amanda Lepore, with whom she filmed Lineage of the Divine (2002), a precursor of the current work. Tichacek was enchanted by the star's exaggerated, operated, unnatural beauty: as someone who has "a love-hate relation to femininity, I'm drawn to someone like her, but she is also a tormenting thing, a sign of what's oppressive about femininity. Like in my own upbringing in Switzerland before moving to Australia in my late teens. It was very conservative there. Very beautiful and gorgeous, but strict and oppressive."

Monika Tichacek (1975) was born in Zurich. Lives and works in Sydney. Courtesy the artist and Sherman Galleries, Sydney

Masha Zusman Home, 2004, installation Masha Zusman's "home" is installed within the museum space. At first sight it appears like a monumental wooden box, but the improvised locked door on it reveals its function. The house is made of crude, bare wooden boards removed from cargo crates, and appears like a trailer home, a temporary shelter, or a simple workers' shack. It is a sealed house, devoid of windows; any possibility of entry or peeking at what is going on inside is prevented, and only its external walls are imprinted with the occurrence and observable. Zusman follows the texture of the wooden boards. By means of colored ballpoint pens she covers their external shell with images of flowers, women, and animals. The painted images reflect sexuality and animalism, evoking a sense of danger and threat. The animals burst out of the wood with a terrified rapacious gaze, and the passive women are immersed, helpless, within the vegetation that takes over, or are subordinated to the violent bestiality. The scenes carved in the wood as a scorching brand, place the house within the setting of a dark forest. The home ceases to generate a sense of security when the outside takes over, leaving no room for escape.

Jossef Krispel I'm, Botany, 2005, oil on canvas Jossef Krispel's use of vast, inexhaustible expanses of images extracted from encyclopedias, newspapers and books, and his engagement with image-painting relationship, continues in the current series of paintings, I'm, Botany, where he draws his images from an Eretz-Israel plant guide. His paintings trace the aesthetics of the guide's pages, attempting to redefine it through the fluid language of painting, corresponding with botanical and anatomical drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Krispel avoids direct observation of nature, instead shifting the gaze toward a copied image, thus transforming the plant guide into a secondary source, a type of mediator between nature and the painting, an alternative to nature itself. The vegetal images are painted on large-scale yellow canvases; their gray color drips downward, staining the canvas and generating signs of life and quivering in them. Krispel explores the mute language of nature, as presented in the guide, juxtaposing it with the mute, nonobsequious language of painting. The plants are described as interrupted signs in uniform monochromatic hue, and as discrete elements taken out of their natural context; at the same time, the fluid brush strokes and the warm yellow background seem to awaken the painting from its frozen state, helping it overcome its muteness. The "hand-work" incorporated in the series likewise addresses a type of harsh, mute language which generates signs and corresponds with both the language of flora and the language of painting. Krispel confronts these languages in an attempt to facilitate a dialogue between them, to bring them together and redefine them.

Donna Conlon Coexistencia, 2003, video, 5:26 min The film depicts worker ants in woodland, carrying pieces of leaves, some real and some artificial, paper leaves inserted by the artist into their habitat. The paper leaves are marked with peace signs and the flags of the 191 United Nations member states; thus the ant procession comes to resemble a parade of the world's nations. The ants' typical vigorous activity analogizes activities of peace and collaboration, and their appearance with the flags is a metaphor for human functioning. The work was presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale, and described by Irma Arestizabal, curator of the Instituto Italo-Latino Americano pavilion, as addressing "the existence of a thing, while another already exists." This assertion refers explicitly to the ants' activity, but may be applied to any form of coexistence in the world as a whole, and in Israel in particular. Conlon, who lives in Panama, photographs leaf cutter ants, indigenous to tropical areas in Central and South America. These ants build monumental nests (up to 29 feet long and 19 feet deep), living in giant colonies numbering 2-3 million ants. The leaves which they cut and carry are not used as food, but rather as bedding for a special fungus they cultivate and on which they feed. Conlon studies the ants' behavior, presenting their classical qualities - industriousness, team work, organization, and determination - as a model of imitation for human beings. The observation of the ants working and "carrying" the burden of the world's nations generates, on the one hand, a dream and aspiration for a cooperative utopia, and on the other - criticism of mankind's limited achievements. The lens's close scrutiny of the ants' behavior implies a correspondence between the ants and the human world. Conlon observes nature and the ant world, attempting to implicate from them onto social-human behavior. She applies a critical, humorous gaze that extends over different fields, such as biology, zoology, botany, and society.

Donna Conlon (1966) was born in the USA. Lives and works in Panama City.

Aaron Young Goodboy, 2005, video, 2 min The lens focuses on a pit bull terrier, its jaws fiercely clenched on a rope suspended from above, with urging cheers coming from the background. The occurrence is located in an empty space reminiscent of an interrogation den or a clandestine training site. The dog growls, turns in circles, constantly clenching the rope, while the calls of the invisible figure aggressively egg him on. It is an isolated frame repeated in a loop, where the dog remains forever remorseless and obedient. The scene calls to mind instigation a la boxing arenas or military training, but the bestial, cruel nature is resonant and especially uncanny. The interrelations between trainer and trainee, or rather, torturer and tortured, represent power and aggression; they push the limits of endurance to the point of a dangerous, violent discharge. The prodding figure is ostensibly responsible for the abuse, but acquaintance with the nature of this breed of dog accounts for the latter's part in the violent action. Infamously dangerous, the pit bull's very name already contains an allusion to a fighting arena. Indeed, this breed is often used for forbidden dog fights and betting, a conspicuous example of which may be seen in the Mexican film, Amores Perros (aka Love's a Bitch, 2000). Goodboy confronts the viewer with a harsh, nerve-racking scene. The rigid loop goes on and on, preventing the viewer even a split second of retreat or escape.

Freedom Fries, 2005, Video, 4 min. Freedom Fries was shot at the gardens of Versailles near Paris, gardens that symbolize the epitome of the French bourgeoisie and the grandeur of French royalty. Young arrives at the site now functioning as a touristy museum equipped with his camera, but unconventionally and defiantly, he locates the camera in the lowest spot - on the ground. The shooting is performed by violently kicking the camera, which is thrust, bumped and rolled across the gardens from place to place, thus changing the point of view. The lens, like a human eye, loses sight for a minute, but gradually recovers from the blurring and refocuses. Young attempts to violate given orders, to kick the French bourgeoisie and interfere with the artificial beauty of the gardens. The low point of view rejects the built-in aesthetics of the site, and the camera's kicking indicates scorn, scoffing, aversion, and rebelliousness. The title of the work, Freedom Fries, draws on an affair that occurred in the USA during the second Gulf War, when France refused to take part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The French objection elicited anger in some of the Americans, who decided to take a symbolic act and change the name "French fries" to "freedom fries" to convey scorn and disapproval. Young borrows the name for his work, re-charging it with meaning.

Aaron Young (1972) was born in San Francisco, California. Lives and works in New York and Los Angeles.

Elyasaf Kowner Learning Pain from Trees, 2005, video, 3:00 min The video takes place in a typical Israeli forest in the Carmel area, following a single figure wandering in it. Soon it turns out that the forest had been burnt, the trunks are sooty, and the soil popping out from underneath the pine needles is black. The figure, whose face is invisible, passes between the trees, and like a shaman tries to heal them and peel off the burnt layer. Unlike most of his previous works which were characterized by urban wanderings, making contact with the photographed subjects and tracing mundane human gestures, this time Kowner turns to nature and avoids looking at the camera. The figure wanders around the forest, trying to study it and decipher what happened there. It digs through the burnt bark, touching it and examining its state. A sense of pain emerges from the forest, which is enhanced upon the discovery of the quarry and the wound it leaves in the mountain. Israeli reality is reflected in the video. The fire may have been started by natural causes or human negligence, but the possibility of arson due to a nationalist motive also arises. Apart from the socio-political gaze, the work addresses processes of healing and rehabilitation, the image of the Israeli forest as opposed to the natural forest, as well as ecological issues, vis-a-vis the fire and the exploitation of mountain rock for the quarry industry. The title of the work alludes to two 1990 paintings by Nurit David entitled To Learn Writing from Trees. In the case of both artists, David and Kowner, the motif of wandering feet is discernible, as well as the association with and turning to the trees. While David imprints feet against the backdrop of trees in her paintings, Kowner shoots a live wanderer focusing on the feet moving amidst the trees. In the works of both artists an emotional and personal interpretation emerges. Learning Pain from Trees implies a personification of nature, and the trees' peeling reflects the peeling of psychic layers and the intricacy of the human soul.

Jodie Vicenta Jacobson all the sex we're not having, 2002, video, 3 min Aspens, 2005, video, 3:30 min Jodie Vicenta Jacobson's two video works screened consecutively address the fine link between image, movement and time. Jacobson began her artistic career as a photographer. Discussing her transition to video, she says: "Not having given up photography, video represents to me a pregnant new medium for inserting sound and time into my photographic aesthetic. Each piece is therefore a foray into what makes video different from still photography, while maintaining a desire to frame and communicate with the world through a lens." In all the sex we're not having the camera is located at the heart of nature, ostensibly delving into its depths. The silence all around and the lingering gaze make it possible to feel nature's pulse, to feel at one with it and peruse the fine relationship woven within it. The blowing wind creates light movement and trembling in the frame. Jacobson moves between exterior and interior, paralleling the tranquil touches in nature to a slow caressing of the body which appears at once erotic and disturbing. The video Aspens was created, according to the artist, in homage to the Futurist movement in art. It explores the relationship of a screened image with speed and movement. The camera passes swiftly along a snowy aspen forest in Colorado; the frozen branches shimmer against the backdrop of the blue sky, generating constant motion and vibration. Jacobson focuses on the individual image while changing the shooting pace which guides the image through a changing, cyclical chain of situations. The image runs at accelerated rate until it becomes an abstract flickering, and so on.

Jodie Vicenta Jacobson (1977) was born in Colorado. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Noga Elhasid & Halit Mandelblit Six Feet Under, 2005, installation In Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (1990), Jean-Luc Godard's Passion (1982) and Carlos Saura's Goya in Bordeaux (1999), paintings come alive: Vincent van Gogh's The Langlois Bridge, Rembrandt's Night Watch, Eugene Delacroix's Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, and Francisco Goya's The 3rd of May 1808. Elhasid and Mandelblit offer the viewer the experience of "walking into a painting," an experience of beauty and nightmare, in a sculptural installation hung from the ceiling, filling the museum's central hall. In the current work Elhasid and Mandelblit continue exploring the tension between the two-dimensional and the three-dimensional, the voluminous and the flat, painting and sculpture, concrete and imaginary, virtual and real, "authentic" and "artistic". Six Feet Under, a three-dimensional landscape scene that floats in space like a fantasy of magic and horror, consists of flat and voluminous sections revealed to the viewer upon entering the large hall. Like the American TV series from which the title of the installation was borrowed, Elhasid and Mandelblit's space is replete with comments at once macabre and quasi-naive: a multi-branched tree deconstructed into its constituent elements once it is approached; large Perspex plates in twilight hues and a pattern of clouds and smoke; sleeping creatures hovering on a balloon with eyes shut, carrying their young or prey in their mouths; a projection of an animal's silhouette, some wolf-dog with a dead bird in its mouth, moving like a ghost trapped in the landscape, appearing and disappearing like the Hound of the Baskervilles; a moon-smile emanating from between the tree branches and the clouds, large and evil like the Cheshire Cat's grin.

Eti Jacobi The 91st Night, 2005, acrylic on canvas and black paper The two series The 91st Night consist of drawings and paintings in acrylic on canvas and black paper in a grid composition. Jacobi introduces a reverse logic of operation, substituting the painting's traditional white with black. The black is especially conspicuous at first sight. The drawings are swallowed in it, appearing like free, abstract scribbles that fill the paper/canvas, ostensibly fluttering over its surface; a closer look, however, gradually reveals the images, and the narrative unfolds. The works offer an amused, imaginary plot alongside a dark spooky atmosphere, and are populated with a jumble of images, among them monkeys and elephants, skulls, trees, and people. The flowing, scribbled nature of the images, along with the humorous, playful air, compensate for the nocturnal black, seemingly illuminating it and giving it a new life. The title of the series has various referents. The 91st Night as an allusion to Arabian Nights with their legendary eventful nature. It also alludes to a painting created with a swift light hand. Jacobi's proficiency and her mastery of the free, erupting line are read as if the painting had been created in the last minute, or alternatively, during extra time: in both cases it is the 91st minute.