Gilad Efrat, Ansaar IX, 2008
History of Violence
January 24 - June 20, 2009
Curator: Hadas Maor
This exhibition attempts to examine the concept of violence in a variety of complex political, philosophical and psychological contexts. It addresses a wide range of situations involving tension, struggle and warfare around the world, as well as the ongoing state of occupation in the context of which we live and work here in Israel. Nevertheless, it is important to stress that the exhibition does not attempt to offer a historical survey of these events, or to analyze the nature of the connection between terror and beauty, spectacle and horror. Despite the relevancy of the exhibition's subject in the context of current events, the works it features - which were created by leading Israeli and international artists - are not characterized by a straightforward documentary approach; rather, they address this subject in conceptual, mediated, subtle and abstract ways. This approach is the result of a conscious attempt not to focus on the depiction of horror; an attempt to go beyond the particular case or event, and to think about the violence that shapes and structures the works even when it is not explicitly present in them.
The most apparent common denominator that ties together the works included in the exhibition is the harsh sense of emptiness they provoke. This is a multifaceted kind of emptiness, which camouflages a range of fateful moral, cultural and geographic implications. A significant number of works contain vestiges of army camps or of war; others depict human beings in states related to survival, struggle, distress or faith. Experiences of alienation, detachment, wandering, exile, hatred or horror lie at the basis of the exhibition, and allude to the human condition it delineates. At the same time, the exhibition presents works that touch upon violence in political, national and religious contexts, as well as in emotional, sexual and social contexts; violence related to a state of excess versus violence related to a state of lack. Yet what, in fact, is the difference between these terms? And can they indeed be separated into distinct categories?
One may state that in a certain sense, the exhibition attempts to examine, or perhaps to put to the test, the question of human character. The exhibition's title relates to the expression "history of violence" - which is usually used to describe criminals whose record includes documented cases of violence, and who are thus expected to commit additional crimes. This expression stresses the need to carefully consider the treatment of such criminals given their violent history, even in cases where they have not been proven guilty. The exhibition title also relates to David Cronenberg's well-known film,
A History of Violence (2005).
This exhibition attempts to go beyond the reductive, deadening limitation that results from examining contemporary existence from within a predetermined framework; to carefully examine a given state of affairs, yet also to question it; to function not simply as a lamentation, but also as a call for active reflection.