- Middle East
- Pablo Markin
From October 15 to December 12, 2015, Tel Aviv’s Center for Contemporary Art is staging an installation and performance project of Ohad Meromi. The project has transformed this two-story exhibition space into a lower floor-level podium for music, dance, and theater improvisations upon which viewers can cast their glances from the upper gallery, where several stands hold 3D compositions that explore the conceptual connections between installation and architecture.
Different installations of this exhibition, entitled ‘A Resort,’ model a series of stages that going on a vacation might involve, with compositions that come across as prototypes, accidental agglomerations of objects and building maquettes. This project deconstructs the boundary between the work of art as a self-contained entity and events, gestures, and structures that can be arbitrary, routine, or predetermined. Meromi’s project also displaces the work of the artist from the focus on individual authorship to the documentation of musical experimentation, theatrical performances, fashion shows, and dance pieces that this gallery has been hosting for the duration of the exhibition.
Each performance has been invited to creatively respond to the sites that installation pieces evoke, ranging from a seaside resort, a border checkpoint, and an archaeological site to a plane and a hotel room. The loose relationship of these stopover points on a routine vacation itinerary is shored up by an associative theater play scenario with which Meromi brings each one-time event taking place in this space into proximity with the repetitiveness of stage rehearsals. The contradictions that this project stresses not only bring into relief the status of Israel as a seaside vacation destination but also its interrelationships with migrations, border-crossings, and exile.
As both an international and Israeli artist, Meromi inadvertently refers to the historical background of modernism and the avant-garde that lent to the figure of the artist celebrity-like visibility in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His counter-statement to this history of art coincides with the postmodern deconstruction of the figure of the artist as a singular individual, as he stresses the participatory, community-oriented, and social awareness aspects of contemporary art.
The Conceptual Influences
However, this contradiction between objectified artworks and ephemeral artistic practices remains unresolved as volunteer participants in this artistic project largely validate Meromi’s artistic vision, while remaining cast as a theatrical chorus that underlines his authorial, directorial, and activist role. The shared framework of this project reinforces the distinction between individual artists and larger collectivities that both revolutionary artistic movements, such as the Soviet Constructivism, and anti-establishment artists, writers, and intellectuals — such as Bertold Brecht — have sought to abolish.
Rather than transcending the boundary between art and life, this project adds to the archive of contemporary art another set of records that both situate and historicize Meromi’s work as an homage to avant-garde, modernism, and postmodernism. In their collective sum, the video recordings of multiple experimental, improvised performances are only written into the history of art through their realization of the singular framework for art creation that its author has envisaged.
2a Tsadok Hacohen St, Tel Aviv, Israel
By Pablo Markin
In addition to his more academic involvements, Pablo Markin is a globe-trotting flâneur with a keen interest in cultural districts, international exhibitions, and contemporary art. His photographic impressions, blog articles, and exhibition reviews can be followed on social media (@pbmarkin).