In the East

2019, Cymbalista Center, Tel Aviv. Group exhibition curated by Rami Ozeri and Vera Pilpoul for the 2019 Jerusalem Biennale.

Part of the larger Convergent Series project.

Writing in 12th century Spain, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi lamented, “My heart is in the East, but I am in the farthest West”. Originally commissioned for the Jerusalem Biennale exhibition of the same name, the series ‘In the East’ focuses on the opposite condition – of an artist located in the East, but looking Westward. The works view this statement as emblematic of a post-visionary condition; of Jerusalem rebuilt, and the realization of two thousand years of longing for Zion and a national rebirth. But having assumed a physical form, the vision is also subjected to those same processes of change, transformation, and decay which affect all things in the physical realm.

 

The series is composed of illustrations by Ephraim Moses Lilien, rendered as cast-tar reliefs. The use of Lilien’s images makes a connection to that formative era, and its vision of the emergent, utopic society. But having been cast in tar, by essence a non-solid, the images cannot remain static, and they are doomed to gradually lose their form during the course of the exhibition.

 

The series illustrates the changes that have taken place since that founding visionary generation of Zionist awakening, and the inability to realize a vision while preserving it intact. Thus, the series can be read as a sort of ‘longing for Zion’ by a 3rd-generation Jerusalemite.

© 2019 by Ofer Grunwald

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