Israeli Artist Yael Bartana in Denmark
The Afula-born artist provokes and confounds with her latest exhibit
The Louisiana Museum, outside of Copenhagen, is one of most critically acclaimed modern art museums in the world. Located on a grassy compound perched picturesquely by the Baltic Sea, it’s a tough act to beat. Strewn about its pristine lawns are priceless sculptures–Noguchi in stone and Calder in steel.
Inside the museum, between Lichtenstein, Morris Louis, and others, the tribe is well represented. However, one moment I’ll relay from my visit yesterday that belies the serenity was the sight of a rare crowd of people–rare for a Thursday afternoon at least–huddled over a stack of prints on the museum floor. It was for a piece by Israeli artist Yael Bartana.
The work was simply a large stack of red posters with a manifesto printed on it (see above). It was called “Take A Poster.” But nobody would. Typical of a Bartana work, everyone seemed to be debating whether or not they could actually just snag a poster from an exhibit of a museum or if the artist was just messing with them. Finally, one person stepped in and swooped one up. The group followed suit.
I can’t pretend to be an expert on Bartana, but I’m familiar enough with her to know she likes to provoke and play with these kinds of boundaries. A few of the themes Bartana is known for in her work are home, borders, and national identity. In one exhibit, there was a provocative call for the Jews to return to Poland and, in another, the creation of a mock kibbutz in the center of Warsaw. Despite being Israeli, the Afula-born Bartana was actually asked to represent Poland at the 54th Venice Biennale last year, which is…to say the least…odd and impressive.
Tablet featured a lengthy profile of Bartana and her work in the medium of video back in 2008, which serves as a great introduction to her work.
Bartana is working in a medium that has been embraced by many young Israeli artists: video. Artists like Guy Ben-Ner, Tamy Ben-Tor, and Sigalit Landau have gained international recognition for their video work, which has dealt variously with history, identity, modernism, and the Holocaust. “It’s a very good tool for dealing with reality,” Bartana says. “It’s very immediate: you have the sound and the image. You can document, but also become an intermediary.”
Her own videos are intricately engaged with issues of cultural identity and the Jewish state. Speaking by phone on the eve of the opening of her show at P.S. 1 in Long Island City (her first solo exhibition in New York), Bartana says that she comes from a “very Zionist” family, but “wasn’t raised religious. For me, all of this is more about cultural identity than religion.”
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at email@example.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.