March 5, 2021 - Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art - Maya Attoun: Solar Mountains & Broken Hearts
March 5, 2021

Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art

View of Maya Attoun, Solar mountains & Broken Hearts, 2021 at Magasin III Jaffa. Photo: Noam Preisman.

Maya Attoun
Solar Mountains & Broken Hearts
March 4, 2021

Magasin III Jaffa
34 Olei Zion
Tel Aviv
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Curator: Karmit Galili

Magasin III Jaffa, is pleased to announce Solar Mountains & Broken Hearts, a solo exhibition by artist Maya Attoun.  

Maya Attoun's new exhibiton at Magasin III Jaffa is one installation composed of three new bodies of work. Solar Plexus consists of four sculptural objects rising to the height of five meters, an animation work in the name of CRY (Cybernetic Year) and a series of drawings which is named as the exhibiton Solar Mountains & Broken Hearts. In the series of drawings Attoun continues to elaborate the lexicon of images she has been developing for years—knots, basketballs, hands, digits and characters, alchemical symbols, playing cards and tarot motifs—an iconography that blends together literature, music, pop culture, science and technology. Seeing her work as part of a gothic tradition that does not distinguish the beautiful from the terrifying, Attoun sculpts from the products of man, that which surpasses him in magnificence, signaling with the attentiveness of her drawings the ongoing labor of a broken human heart, continuously drawing its calamities.

1815 saw the explosion of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, the most powerful volcanic eruption on record in hundreds of years, which caused worldwide climatic anomalies: the sky was overcast by a volcanic dust that blocked sunlight, black rainfall descended and temperatures plummeted, to a degree that the year following the eruption became known as the “Year Without a Summer”.

In that non-summer, several friends gathered in a villa rented by Lord Byron on the shores of Lake Geneva, among them Percy Bysshe Shelley, his lover Mary Godwin (subsequently known as Mary Shelley, after the two had married), and John Polidori. As a storm was raging outside, they entertained themselves by writing horror stories: Mary Shelley had written a story that would become the basis for Frankenstein (1818), considered the first ever novel in the genre of science fiction; Polidori penned a vampire story that would later be published under the name The Vampire (1819), a pioneering work of vampire literature; and Lord Byron had written his apocalyptic poem Darkness (1816), narrating the ruin of earth and man.

Out of this climatic-cultural moment which places on the same level the natural and supernatural, humanity and monstrosity, the earthly and sublime, Attoun builds a cosmic landscape that runs on a time scale of its own. Solar mountains cast their shadow on the floor, and a celestial body, projected onto the wall, fills up and empties out in regular intervals of 24 minutes and 24 seconds, setting up a site-specific temporality, unique to this work and the space it inhabits. Nearby, hanging on the wall, are drawings of a catastrophe, one that has already occurred, or is just about to with volcanic eruptions and billowing dust, trampled ferns, birds with amputated limbs, hands trying to hold on to something. The catastrophic landscape Attoun creates cannot be tied to a specific time and place. Even as it echoes the volcanic eruption of 1815 it relates just as much to a future tense, here on earth or on another planet, just before the catastrophe or in its immediate wake. A catastrophe whose circumstances remain unclear; it is a landscape that carves out a circular time dimension within the space, projecting the shadows of the past onto the future.

Almost entirely absent from the exhibition is man. He who is most likely to fall victim to such a catastrophe, but also the one who propels it. There are hints to his presence in the basketball-shaped celestial body, and in the technology that enables solar panels, but most of all they are found in the meticulous work that went into the drawings. All three bodies of work were laboriously executed in graphite. For Attoun, however, drawing isn’t merely a technical feat but rather a way of transmitting energy, which is why her four solar mountains—Solar Plexus—can be seen as a solar panel converting human energy into art. Built into this drawing technique is the possibility of erasure—it takes far less than a catastrophe on the scale of a volcanic eruption to erase the signs arduously drawn by Attoun. A simple eraser will do. This, in fact, was the technique used in Cry (Cybernetic Year), an animated work produced through the systematic erasure of the drawing.

It is with excitement that we are opening Solar Mountains and Broken Hearts, a solo exhibition by Maya Attoun. The show follows two years of work, the last of which particularly fraught by a global pandemic—a backdrop against which it is interesting to examine Attoun's interpretation of the relationship of humanity with nature across centuries.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a booklet with texts by David Neuman and Karmit Galili and images of the exhibition.


About the artist
Maya Attoun was born in Jerusalem in 1974. She lives and works in Tel Aviv. Attoun acquired both a BFA and MFA at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.

Attoun is a multidisciplinary artist, engaging in a dialogue between thought processes, intuited gestures, materials and images. Her work encompasses a variety of media that includes murals, drawings, prints, sculptural objects, ready-mades and sound. Through these she reflects on modernity, history of popular culture, and the intersection of myth, narrative and science. Attoun is a lecturer at the Multidisciplinary Art Faculty, Shenkar College for Engineering and Design, and at the School of Visual Theatre.

Attoun’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Israel and abroad. One person and dual exhibitions: Jerusalem Print Workshop, Jerusalem, Israel (2019); Jewish Museum, London, England (2018); Givon Art Forum, Tel Aviv, Israel (2018); Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel (2017); Givon Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel (2016); Flisch Gallery, Rome, Italy (2012); Solo exhibition for shortlisted candidates for the Natan Gottesdiener Foundation's Israeli Art Prize, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel (2009). In addition, Attoun has participated in group exhibitions at: MACT / CACT Ticino Museum and Contemporary Art Center, Bellinzona, Switzerland; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; Manofim Festival, Jerusalem, Israel; Maria & Vadim Zakharov Gallery, Berlin, Germany; Mormon University, Jerusalem, Israel; The 6th and 7th Drawing Biennial, Jerusalem, Israel; Redtory Museum of Contemporary Art, Gouangzhou, China; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Kallio Kunsthall, Helsinki, Finland and Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art, Stockholm, Sweden.

About Magasin III Jaffa
Magasin III Jaffa is an exhibition space, a permanent satellite established by Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art, Stockholm, Sweden. Magasin III Jaffa’s diverse program features both local and international contemporary artists. Since 2018, Magasin III Jaffa has presented solo exhibitons by Haim Steinbach, Shiela Hicks, Cosima von Bonin and Tal R. The space is located on 34 Olei Zion, in a residential neighborhood rich with history and cultural diversity, that borders with Jaffa’s famous flea market. Magasin III Jaffa’s unique architecture enables passersby to view the exhibitions from the outside, day and night.

For press inquiries please contact:  
Magasin 3 Jaffa
Jaffa [​at​]

Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art
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