ARCHAEOLOGY OF THE FUTURE
This tripartite exhibition ranges from the psychological-social to the political and the personal.
The first artist featured is photographer SIMCHA SHIRMAN. His works, iconic black and white photographs from the past 35 years, deal with the relations of humans and nature, alienation and human warmth, and hidden and revealed political spaces.
The photographs are printed manually (in the traditional manner) in a range of grays, in a way that makes the viewer look at complex reality without the contrasting dichotomy that divides it into black or white. Such contrast is characteristic of the bright light of this country and its disruptive meanings reflect our society today.
The Horizon series reveals an almost abstract encounter of sea and sky. A space drained of human presence, an unattainable nature, meditative in its beauty but which also creates a sense of density and distress. Is it a horizon of hope or a promise that has not been fulfilled? Other works, such as Tel Aviv Port, capture nature with the traces of man's domination, like the sea in which the wooden remnants of something are scattered. In other works, we find encounters between humans and nature on the seam line between land and sea. These are both momentary and timeless encounters. They contain signs of culture and time, but they remain within the scope of the definition of the specific and the possible. Shirman does not stay outside. In Self Portrait with a Tent, he places himself as a reserve soldier next to a military tent in Samaria, like some kind of a tourist, in a reference to 19th century-Civil War era photography.
The second part of the exhibition is a body of works by NOA SHEIZAF. It consists of two parts. The first is a series of photographic works documenting the No-name Road, whose northern section leads from Kafr Qara to Kibbutz Regavim, from January 2016 through the summer of 2017. The beautiful landscapes on the edge of the road are violated by local reality, with a military base located on the outskirts of the Arab town, proclaiming sovereignty and sharpening the borders of the town. The road encourages the travelers not to stop but to continue on their way from one end to the other. The scattered testimonies, along a road that connects the area's settlements dating back to the Roman period, document the upper layer and the archaeological strata beneath it. Billboards capture the eye of the passing traveler and concrete blocks mark a forbidden military firing zone. These offer evidence of the fabric of life and relations between the land and its Jewish and Arab citizens.
Noa Sheizaf also shows a project that explores the sea and the coastline between Acre and Caesarea as a future archaeological X-ray. This corresponds to the way in which Israeli culture preserves and refines its past memory, at the level of material representations, such as public architecture and heritage sites or everyday materials. As such, it creates a close-up of the questions: 1. What will ultimately be the material evidence to represent the Israeli marine/coastal culture of the present when it becomes the archaeology of the future? 2. How are cultural representations constructed? 3. Is there a connection between what we think about ourselves in the present and what will represent our culture in the future?
RANIA AKEL, the third participant, shows work concerned with her house that is being built these days and is slated for demolition, and with the future planning of the boundaries of her town, Kafr Qara. She casts a wide gaze on the landscape of the region, using future outline maps as a platform for her work.
Rania is a woman who has both feet firmly on the ground. She wants to maintain a normal and legal existence in her homeland, but is constantly in a state of "pending clarification". The story of her town is also the story of a society, a country and the present Middle East. Her particular situation forces her to examine future plans, laws and building regulations concerning the Arab sector in Israel.
At sea, she creates another chapter in the years-long project: "Return to Sender". This time she sails far out to sea and releases bottles containing 10-year-old censored letters to her former lover. Here, she asks the immense free sea to carry them to new shores, so that the inhabitants of those faraway lands might find them. In each bottle, she includes a request that they send her back a message telling her where they found it, on a postcard carrying a local stamp that symbolizes hope.
So where do we start and where do we end?
As a culture and as a society?
In time and space?
Visible land hides beneath it endless layers and road signs.
The manner of its division and its boundaries, determined on the surface that is exposed to the air, raise questions about the relationship between human culture and the land, and between fellow human beings.
The endless sea, whose bottom is obscure, is different. We cannot discern its borders, and the horizon separating sky and water changes in ways that do not depend on us.
The maritime culture that a coastal country like ours creates is mainly a culture of beaches, bathing and fishing.
Most of us stay close to the shore. What is it that prevents most of us from going deeper into the sea?
The sea is an unknown mass, at times misleading and at times dangerous.
It is the largest abyss on Earth whose bottom is invisible.
Can we view the sea as our collective unconscious, and the earth, the land, as our conscious part?
We fight over every inch of land. Does it mean anything in the depths of the water? And what can the water tell us about what lies behind all of our conscious actions as a society?
The land collects the symbols of different eras, ideas, cultures and kinds of awareness, in its ports and on its seashores between Acre, Caesarea, Tel-Aviv, Jaffa, and Gaza.
Then we, too, will eventually become archaeological finds.
It is fascinating to contemplate how we will be perceived in the future.
As a developed human culture? A primitive one? Aggressive? Wise?
In the end, why do we fight over the land? That is not what it was meant for.
It is supposed to heal. As is the sea.