2021-2022, Ramot Menashe Art Gallery, Jerusalem
The exhibition The Journey of exploring the ‘Here’ is a collection of items, impressions of a journey taken by painter Assaf Shany and photographer Doron Oved, as if they were tourists in Kibbutz Ramot Menashe. This is an artistic journey they were invited to make as a response to the development of the internal-tourism which grew due to the Corona epidemic and its lockdowns. With the easing of the limitations on movement, the internal-tourism phenomenon brought about “discoveries” of local sites. An experience at times compared to visiting faraway sites in foreign countries.
Assaf and Doron exhibit the collection of sights they gathered during their visits, after having been invited to prepare a Site-Specific Exhibition. In this case, site-specific refers to Kibbutz Ramot Menashe, where the art gallery is located. Assaf searched the deepest crevices of the web and wandered around the Kibbutz and its surroundings; Doron toured the Kibbutz as a researcher-tourist. Although the two operated independently, without a clear plan, they are both occupied with the signs remaining in the area as traces of time passed, while gazing wonderingly at the current reality.
On his painting canvases, Assaf lays “scenery squares” cut out from scenery of the Kibbutz or old photographs shared on social media. All his paintings, those depicting buildings still rooted in their place or those depicting old buildings which have disappeared from the landscape of the Kibbutz – go through a process of sorting characteristics and medicaments of innovation. Assaf covers his paintings with a veil of oldness which activates the sentiment of longing. Longing for innocence, simplicity, being satisfied with what little there is. Assaf’s choices intuitively respond to the views encountered without previous knowledge of the history or designation of the building he chose to paint. As one whose profession is architecture, Assaf notices the unique character of the local buildings, the way they are rooted in the ground, and the way the scenery surrounds them. Referring to changes that occur with time he said, “the way the environment changes over the years in relation to the building, and defines the setting, is unique to the Kibbutz in general and this place in particular. In practice, it constitutes a sort of ‘signature’ which characterizes the place and differentiates it from others.”
The images Doron collected throughout her wanderings in the Kibbutz are marginal segments of reality which respond to a wondrous new place through her eyes, and traces of time depicted via local objects. As she wandered, Doron studied big and small details on the ground. Doron carries with her a great deal of experience in Kibbutz life (born in Kibbutz Hanita), and through the lens of her camera she examines and captures whatever attracts her heart: mustiness on an old concrete pavement bridge; a towering cactus; a rock seen from “space”; a sentence carved into a glass panel; a map with an imprint of the number 8 – fragments of local sights encountered on her way, appear in the gallery space in different sizes and methods of presentation, creating a whole. Documentation of the “findings” illustrate the experience of being in the particular place. The elements piquing her curiosity and the desire to document them, carry time-influences and a discreet human presence, telling a story and providing details of the local narrative.
The shared theme in Assaf Shany and Doron Oved’s work is the emphasis placed on lingering, observing and the significance granted to supposedly insignificant inanimate daily sights – in contrast to the contemporary accelerated lifestyle, and perhaps even as an act of escapism from the fast pace, overcrowdedness and overload of information and imagery overwhelming us with the advanced technology surrounding us in the tangible reality or the virtual one constantly projected from the screens in our homes.
The exhibition The Journey of exploring the ‘Here’ is like a “silent-map” – creating a kind of puzzle, a challenge for the visitors, inviting them to solve the uniqueness of the place and perhaps even arousing curiosity and a thirst to search and discover where the chosen sights are found.
When did we last really look at a fallen leaf, lingeringly, observingly?