Israeli Pavilion at 56th Venice Biennale 2015
Archeology of the Present
Curator: Hadas Maor
Archeology of the Present will extend over the exterior of the pavilion as well as through its interior, destabilizing familiar divisions between inside and outside, functional and the representational, high and low, abandoned, found, and manipulated elements. It will encompass formal and thematic elements characteristic of Geva’s work throughout his career and will present paintings alongside sculptural installations and abandoned and manipulated objects, abolishing hierarchical distinctions between artistic mediums and structures. In doing so, the project will give expression to Geva’s ongoing concern with elements related to the notion of “home”—including terrazzo tiles, windows, shutters, lattices, and cement blocks; elements which exist as fragments of what once was, or could in principle constitute, a home. The project will raise self-reflexive artistic concerns and epistemological questions, as well as political and cultural questions of locality and immigration, hybrid identity, existential anxiety and existence in an age of instability. The physical layout of the project will create sharp transitions between experiences of blockage, discomfort, or spatial ambiguity and intimate, poetic moments, so that fragility and crudeness, lyricism and violence, are inextricably intertwined.
Geva’s work contains numerous layers of significance shaped by processes of figuration and abstraction, revelation and concealment. The question of painting in particular, and of the art object in general, is present in his work alongside political and cultural questions, which simultaneously camouflage and enhance one another. Employing disruption and displacement, repetition and accumulation, Geva makes hybrid works that open up new discursive channels.
Geva’s long-term engagement with the stratified structure of identity, and Archeology of the Present in particular, will offer an opportunity to explore this notion within the wider narrative of nationality as proposed by the Venice Biennale. In a year when curator Okwui Enwezor proposes to focus on All the World’s Futures, Geva’s site-specific, all-encompassing installation may also be read with regard to the current state of humanity and the world.
Tsibi Geva is one of Israel’s most prominent and influential artists. Born in 1951 on Kibbutz Ein Shemer, Israel, he lives and works in Tel Aviv. Since 1979 he has exhibited solo shows in numerous venues around the world, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The American University Museum, Washington, DC; MACRO Testaccio Museum, Rome (traveling to Mönchenhaus – Museum of Modern Art in Goslar, Germany, in July). He has also had solo shows in Israel’s leading museums, including the Haifa Museum of Art; the Ashdod Art Museum, Monart Center; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and a retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. He has participated in group exhibitions in major museums and galleries worldwide, including the Kunsthaus Zürich; Orangerie Herrenhausen, Hannover; Whitebox, New York; Palazzo Reale, Milan; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; El Espacio Aglutinador, Havana, Cuba; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem; and CCA Andratx, Mallorca. Geva is a professor at the University of Haifa and at Hamidrasha School of Art, Beit Berl College. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Sandberg Prize from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Pundick Prize from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli Ministry of Culture.
Hadas Maor is a contemporary art curator based in Tel Aviv. She received her academic training in art history and photography, as well as critical theory and hermeneutics. Since the late 1990s, she has been working with Israel’s leading contemporary art museums (among them the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Haifa Museum of Art, the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon). Maor has curated solo shows for numerous Israeli and international artists, as well as large-scale, thematic group exhibitions such as Embroidered Action, (after), Temporally, History of Violence,Living Room, showtime and others. These shows featured works by artists such as Nelly Agassi, Carlos Amorales, Kader Attia, Janet Cardiff, Jordi Colomer, Tsibi Geva, Mona Hatoum, Michal Heiman, Sigalit Landau, Maria Marshall, Ernesto Neto, Chiharu Shiota, Naama Tsabar, Wang Wei, Gal Weinstein and others. Maor’s curatorial work often addresses theoretical notions that pertain to contemporary existence. It strives to identify significant relations between Israeli and international art while interlinking the work of emerging young artists with that of established ones. A major emphasis in her work is promoting the creation of new, large-scale and site-specific works. Hadas Maor regularly contributes essays to artist books, catalogues, and other publications.
Image: Tsibi Geva, Shutter Wall, 2015. Wood, aluminum, plastic, glass, canvas, plaster, tin, Formica 500 x 425 x 5, 500 x 450 x 5 cm. Photo: Elad Sarig. Digital processing: Eyal Rosen. Courtesy of the artist. © Tsibi Geva.