The Infiltrators

The Infiltrators


Ghana ThinkTank, Sudanese Think Tank outside “Holot detention facility for infiltrators,” Israel, 2014. Photo: Christopher Robbins.
May 28, 2014

29 May–5 July 2014

Ben Zvi Road 55
Tel Aviv, Jaffa

Artists: Daniel Landau, Paul Poet, Ghana ThinkTank, Documentary Embroidery
Curator: Maayan Sheleff

The exhibition The Infiltrators examines the local and global state of asylum seekers and refugees through works created with the participation of communities of asylum seekers in Israel and elsewhere in the world. In Israel, the term “infiltrators” is used to describe the transgression of the country’s political borders in order to commit a terrorist act. At the same time this term is commonly used to refer to Africans who have crossed the border from Africa into Israel. Alongside additional terms such as “refugees,” “asylum seekers,” and “immigrant workers,” it plays an important role in the discussion of their status and future. In this context, the term “infiltrators” fixes the status of border crossers as that of liminal subjects, who remain trapped between here and there, citizens of a no place.

The exhibition title plays a double role, since it aspires to look at the included art projects as constituting an act of infiltration. The featured artists attempt to undermine existing stereotypes by enacting different forms of participation, thus questioning common perceptions of the complex state of asylum seekers or refugees. These artists infiltrate the communal or public sphere as outlaws or cunning spies, and cross the thin line between reality and fiction in order to examine and destabilize the power relations that control and define this sphere. They search for the fissures within dichotomies, for the liminal spaces between points of contention, and linger within these borderline spheres.

By means of these four works, as well as through talks and guided tours with the different participants—asylum seekers, south Tel Aviv residents, artists and activists—The Infiltrators attempts to examine participatory art’s forms of representation and display as well as its limitations, while probing the relations between artist, community, and audience.

Ghana ThinkTank works with an international network of think tanks producing strategies for the solution of local problems in the “developed” world. For The Infiltrators, think tanks composed of asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan offered solutions to the problems of Israelis from south Tel Aviv, and vice versa.

Documentary Embroidery employ embroidery as a documentary medium unfolding in real time. Their new project is the result of a month-long stay in Levinsky garden in south Tel Aviv, the site of political struggles involving the African asylum seekers, where they embroidered their encounters with inhabitants and passersby.

Daniel Landau has been working with asylum seekers from Darfur, as part of Resident Alien, a global project with immigrants and refugees that examines the limits of documentary and performative actions in the context of testimony.

In the documentary film Ausländer Raus! Schlingensief’s Container (Foreigners Out! Schlingensief’s Container), Paul Poet follows the project Please Love Austria, created by artist Christoph Schlingensief in 2001. For this project, Schlingensief set down a container inhabited by 12 asylum seekers in the square outside Vienna’s opera house. The audience was asked to vote daily in order to decide which of the asylum seekers would be deported from Austria.

The exhibition catalogue includes Claire Bishop’s article “Participation and Spectacle: Where Are We Now?” (2012), courtesy of Creative Time Books and The MIT Press.

Artport, founded by the Ted Arison Family Foundation, is a non-profit art organization fostering and promoting contemporary Israeli art. Through conferences, exhibitions, workshops, professional training and Israel’s leading visual arts residency, Artport advances artists and the connections between art and society.

Director: Vardit Gross
Curator Maayan Sheleff is a graduate of Artport’s 2013 residency program.

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May 28, 2014

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