with two works Inferno (2013) and Tashlikh (2017)
Yael Bartana’s films, installations and photographs explore the imagery of identity and the politics of memory. Her starting point is the national consciousness propagated by her native country, Israel. Central to the work are meanings implied by terms like “homeland”, “return” and “belonging”.
Bartana investigates these through the ceremonies, public rituals and social diversions that are intended to reaffirm the collective identity of the nation state. In her recent work the artist stages situations and introduces fictive moments into real existing narratives.
The exhibition ‘pre-enactments’, a term coined by Bartana herself, indicates a methodology that commingles fact and fiction, prophesy and history, will consist of two works Inferno (2013) a “pre-enactment” of the destruction of the Third Temple and Tashlikh (2017), a visual performance that gathers personal objects linked to horrors of the past and the present.
The starting point of 'Inferno' is the construction of the third Temple of Solomon (Templo de Salmão) in São Paulo by a Brazilian Neo-Pentecostal Church. Built to biblical specifications, this new temple is a replica of the first temple in Jerusalem, the violent destruction of which signaled the diaspora of the Jewish people in the 6th century BCE. 'Inferno' confronts this conflation of place, history, and belief, providing insight into the complex realities of Latin America that have given rise to the temple project. Bartana’s film employs what she refers to as “historical pre enactment,” a methodology that commingles fact and fiction, prophesy and history. The work addresses the grandiose temple project through a vision of its future: Does its construction necessarily foreshadow its destruction? Using a powerful cinematic language, 'Inferno' collapses histories of antiquity in the Middle East with a surreal present unfolding halfway around the world.
‘Tashlikh’ serves as a platform for both perpetrators and survivors of various genocides or ethnic persecutions – the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, as well as Sudanese and Eritrean ethnic cleansing or civil wars – to confront their personal material links to the horrors of the past. For this project, a filmic meeting point was created for people and objects, in which they symbolically rid themselves of objects that have survived the traumas of genocide. Inspired by the Jewish custom of “Tashlikh” where casting bread or other objects into a river symbolises a relinquishing of sins, Bartana’s work generates a new ritual that consists of the deliberate discarding of objects as a means of psychological liberation.