The Israeli Locale is a new creation of the “locale” concept. According to this concept, the attitude toward locale is twofold: we yearn for it, come to it, miss it, it is the Great Hope. The locale is creating a world, object of hope, advancing a plot. In cultural terms, it is about creation and bequeathing of language, text, myth, history.
Israeliness is frequently interpreted as success in fashioning a place whose residents are its natives, who have a complete local identity. At the same time, place and localism arouse withdrawal, reservation, even disgust, as though their very realization, the whole idea of place, of the Promised Land, is liable to go sour.
It is obvious that the sense of place of Israelis does not differ from that of various people throughout the world, but the difference is the non-solution of the place, that stems from an ideological contradiction that rocks this world’s “unified”, Zionist place from within. This place in the sense of Israeliness is ambivalent, burdened with belonging and alienation, proximity and remoteness, diminution and elevation.
It’s about a dialogue between a close, contemporary, local living reality, and an idea. The precedence of this idea to place implies lack of identity between the place and the idea.1
The interpretations we give to national localism and symbols of nationality, and the experiences we undergo are just explanations and transferences of things that hold onto us as much as we hold onto them, existing or imported myths, at times for ideological purposes and sometimes for political goals, identity rituals and attempts to find one’s place in the location where we try to “feel at home”. These rituals sometimes give us a sense of strangeness, to the eternal struggle that may be doomed to failure, to feel part of something, to feel belongingness. This show’s works, that were created especially for it, attempt to import and to physically ‘meld’ the imported ideas into the Locale.
Noa Schwartz was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Vera Vladimirsky is an immigrant who has moved from many houses until she settled in Tel Aviv.
Noa Schwartz focuses on the different styles of building in the city of Tel Aviv, and especially on the “White City” that is composed of several structures in the international style, scattered among the variety of local architecture.
The White City, as it is offered for observation or tours, is along a discontinuous route among which white spots are scattered that belong to this building style. The structures need regular, systematic renovations, a sort of backup program that seeks to return a bit of their splendor from the early days. Noa detaches the existing objects from their original, charged surroundings, and creates renewed interest in them.
In Triptych 18, 20, 22 Schwartz has created three models of expandable tables. At the moment the table is opened, all its components are revealed, showing its functional potential and pointing to a sort of festive moment. The formation of the “tables” is derived from an aerial photo or “overview” of three buildings on Bialik Street.
18 Bialik Street is a Bauhaus building from the 1930′s, 22 Bialik Street is Bialik’s Home, tightly preserved in its past, and 20 Bialik Street is the building between them, a “standard” building of flats from the early 30′s that is visible from both adjoining buildings and suffers from more than a little criticism regarding its relevance to the street. The transformation of the building’s shape to a model of a table ‘cuts and pastes’ it into a place in which models are valuable, thereby removing from the buildings the praise and complaints that accumulated over the years, challenging the thought that one object is more important than another. All three of them have the same possibility to realize their potential.
Waschputz is a work that changes according to the observer’s point of view, and may be seen as a continuum of the same covering, that as it moves the continuum breaks apart. The use of “Waschputz” is very common in preservation of buildings of the international type in the White City. In a regular tour of the city they are randomly revealed and disappear before your eyes.
Vera Vladimirsky’s works, from her point of view as an immigrant, examine the most generic locale. Urban, peripheral, kibbutz or home scenery constitute an expression in her works of mood, cultural characteristics and history.
The works seek to consider the way the familiar environment, that was created in a climate accompanied by ethos and ceremony, by symbolism that over the ages has become collective, and a narrative that grew according to orderly principles, filled with vision, at times even “national needs”, that have now become the norm, expropriated from their context, and currently altogether ‘worn-through’.
In the triptych “Shells” figures photographed by Vladimirsky are pasted onto a marble kitchen counter.
In “Shells #1” the images of trees and the picnic table were photographed in the Arboretum2 at “Ilanot”, a national acclimatization garden that from the early ’50′s until 1986 served as an area to which plants and trees were brought and planted from around the world, in order to test their compatibility with the local climate. The knowledge accumulated served foresters and researchers in Israel in making decisions about forestation throughout the country.
Bringing the trees and testing them in Israel, the attempt to acclimatize them, to fit them to the locale, where they could either grow or wither, constitute a metaphor for immigration. The choice of eucalyptus trees relates both to the Zionist ethos as well as their prevalence in local open spaces.
“Shells #2″ is a sort of three-dimensional collage of two images of the same building that is photographed from two different angles. This is a complex at Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley, that includes an open area for ceremonies, a commemoration room and library. At the front of the photo many chairs can be seen, located in front of the area, and this is the “amphi” of the kibbutz. In the background of the building Vera placed colorful cards and stickers – creative and learning materials that she recalls from her childhood in kibbutzim.
“Untitled” – a direct photograph of the dining room at Kibbutz Afikim.
“Staircase” – was created from a joint work process with Noa, from observation of a photo of the staircase in the building where Vera lived on the kibbutz, constructed in a brutalist modernist style. They simplified the building into lines and geometric shapes, and Noa built elements from concrete that imitate the staircase’s shape. Vera built an additional form, covered it with a wall covering with a sprayed plaster design, and photographed this construction against the background of a while wall. -Yham Hameiri
1 Zali Gurevitz, About Place.
2 Arboretum – acclimatization garden for trees. It eventually became the “Ilanot Forest”, and is spread out on both sides of Route 4 in the Sharon area, between Kadima to the south and Pardessiya in the north.