November 6, 2019 - Fondazione Modena Arti Visive - Yael Bartana: Cast Off
November 6, 2019

Fondazione Modena Arti Visive

Yael Bartana, Tashlikh (Cast Off) (still), 2017. Video. Courtesy of Capitain Petzel Gallery, Berlin; Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam; Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan.

Yael Bartana
Cast Off
November 15, 2019–April 13, 2020

Opening: November 15, 6pm

Fondazione Modena Arti Visive
Palazzo Santa Margherita
Corso Canalgrande 103

T +39 059 203 2919

Fondazione Modena Arti Visive presents Cast Off, a solo show by the Berlin and Amsterdam-based Israeli artist Yael Bartana (b. Kfar Yehezkel, 1970).

Curated by Chiara Dall’Olio, the exhibition features five videos and a photographic work, installed throughout the Sala Grande and the Sale Superiori of Palazzo Santa Margherita, which address notions of identity, nation state and ritual, as well as how these themes are instrumentalized in contemporary politics.

At a time when Italy and the rest of Europe are facing rising nationalism and the re-emergence of separatism, Bartana’s work calls attention to the existence of predominant social and political mechanisms, encouraging her audience to contemplate their own positions within such systems.

The exhibition opens with the black-and-white video The Recorder Player from Sheikh Jarrah (2010), in which an activist plays a recorder before a human chain of Israeli army police officers, who are lined up in front of demonstrators peacefully protesting the eviction of Muslim residents by Jewish settlers from neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.

In the same space, the 2017 film Tashlikh (Cast Off) stages a performative and symbolic disposal of a number of objects in slow motion against a black background. The items originate from different historical contexts and belong to both perpetrators and victims of ethnic persecutions, genocides and wars. The title Tashlikh—which literally means "to throw away" or "to cast off"—references an ancient Jewish practice in which sins committed during the previous year are symbolically represented by an object that is then thrown into running water. In this work, Bartana expands the centuries-old ritual to incorporate a stream of clothes, photographs, scarves.

The show continues in the Sale Superiori of Palazzo Santa Margherita, where the double projection Summer Camp / Avodah (2007) is installed. In this work, Bartana draws on the 1935 aesthetics of the film Avodah, directed by Helmar Lerski, which calls upon Jews to return to their historical motherland and build an ideal Zionist nation. Inverting this perspective, Bartana’s piece conveys the reconstruction of a Palestinian house—destroyed by Israeli authorities—by activists on the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Screened on the same floor is True Finn (2014), which presents eight residents of Finland—of different ethnicities, religions and origins—debating what it means to be Finnish. In this work, Bartana comes to terms with the mechanisms inherent in the construction of a national identity in a context completely unlike that of her own origin.

The video A Declaration (2006)—part of the collection of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Modena—represents one of Bartana's first uses of political imagination. The work documents a staged action: the replacing of the Israeli flag that stands on an outcrop of rock in the Bay of Jaffa with an olive sapling. A universal symbol of peace, as well as a national emblem of both Palestine and Israel, the olive tree also speaks to the Zionist ideal of farming the land. As Bartana herself states, “The work is based on my need to act, to change the reality, drawing on my experimentation with the cinematic language of early Zionist propaganda films.”

The last room houses the photographic series The Missing Negatives of the Sonnenfeld Collection (After Herbert and Leni Sonnenfeld) (2008). Drawing on the immense archive of photojournalists Leni and Herbert Sonnenfeld, who documented Palestine / Land of Israel between 1933 and 1948, Bartana re-created several scenes from their collection, using young Arabs and Arab Jews as models to replace the original Zionist figures in their roles as farmers, workers and soldiers.

Yael Bartana, who will be visiting professor for the Contemporary Image master’s course at the FMAV Scuola di Alta Formazione, will be appearing in an artist talk, at 6pm on Wednesday, February 12, 2020 at FMAV – Palazzo Santa Margherita.


Fondazione Modena Arti Visive press office
Irene Guzman: T +39 349 1250956 / i.guzman [​at​]

Fondazione Modena Arti Visive
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Cast Off
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