Event Date: May 16th to June 30th
Courtesy of Michal Helfman and Sommer Contemporary Art
List of works, in order of appearance:
1. Sharon Glazberg
2. Alona Rodeh
To the Moon and Back, 2018
3. Hilla Ben Ari
4. Michal Helfman
5. Hilla Ben Ari
Semi Circle, 2012
6. Michal Helfman
7. Gili Avissar
8. Hilla Ben Ari
9. Jan Tichi
Things to Come, 2012
10. Hilla Ben Ari
11. Tzion Hazan Avraham
The artworks included in our video program mirror the essence behind Parallel’s vision: creativity, exploration, discovery, and attention to detail all alchemizing to bring beautiful things to life. The 11 works on display were created by Middle Eastern artists, representing the cultures and traditions that influence Parallel’s cuisine and identity.
The first exhibition, running in the evenings from May to August, explores movement. Each video explores changes in postures and physical perspectives, in positions and corporal points of view. The videos challenge viewer perceptions by highlighting different movements and angles, depending on where the viewer stands. The videos deal with different kinds of movement: spontaneous and improvised, or choreographed and rehearsed, featuring human beings or objects. Viewers are exposed to movement that carries symbolic meaning, or one that is simply functional and pragmatic. The artworks strengthen the energy of Parallel and its guests, aiming to extend beyond the clear boundaries of 137 Geary Ave.
The 2012 Things to Come, by Chicago-based Jan Tichi, studies design and light reflections as they appear and reappear on three screens. When repeated and duplicated, these visually-alluring patterns invite the viewer to decipher their inner logic and understand the motivation behind these abstract forms. The work originates from the European avant-garde and its focus on formal structuralism and the beauty of abstraction. Things to Come is based on a 1936 film by the pioneer photo-artist Laszlo Moholy Nagy, moving images that Tichi appropriated, distorted, duplicated and constructed in a choreography that becomes more than an homage; it’s a work of art in its own right.
Two works by the Israeli artist Michal Helfman celebrate dance as a form of human expression. In the 2008 Katya, we see the torso of a young gymnast practicing her ribbon routine. The tight framing and immobile camera take away from the wonder usually associated with professional gymnastics. The shots instead highlight the focus, strength, endurance and control this sport requires. We are less concerned with the ribbon’s delicate and beautiful movements; instead, we are drawn to the gymnast’s ability to master her craft. The second piece by Helfman is titled % –a video featuring five dancers performing a carefully-choreographed rhythmic dance where a dancer’s position on the stage determines their movement. Even though the dancers repeat the same sequence—and despite their physical proximity—they do not communicate with one another. The result suggests a mysterious ritual that the viewer is asked to decode, even though its meaning is never revealed.
This emphasis on dance and fluid movement is countered by the four video-stills by Hilla Ben Ari, who punctures the program with four short videos that display dancers standing still in physically challenging postures for lengthy periods of time. The pieces – Dawn, Semi Circle, Seedling and Sign – appear at first like still images. Yet, through careful observation, one notices the slight movements of blinking, shaking from effort, and breathing that reveal that we are indeed watching a video.
Tzion Abrham Hazan’s Marganit, from 2013, displays an Israeli architectural monument: Marganit Tower, the famous skyscraper found at the centre of the Kyria military base, used by the IDF’s Intelligence Corps., in the heart of Tel Aviv. The building in the video stands tall, while the camera steadily circles it, preventing the observer of entering and learning the building’s secrets. As the video ends, the Tower’s mystery is juxtaposed by a chorus singing a love song, also called Marganit. In Hebrew, the name represents a flower, and is a traditional women’s name.
Gili Avissar’s Pink, from 2014, depicts a man lying in a pile of unidentified objects where both he and his environment are painted in different shades of soft pink. Attempting to become one with this setting, the man hides himself under the objects as a form of camouflage and self-erasure. Yet, his attempt is futile due to his constant movement, and, more significantly, the essential difference between the animate, organic body, and the inanimate objects surrounding him.
Alona Rodeh’s new piece, To the Moon and Back, performed by individual members of the Berlin Fire Brigade, provides a subjective glimpse into the current state of firefighting. The film, however, doesn’t tell the heroic story of a “day in a life” of these professionals. Instead, through abstract narrative and careful editing, the video continues to focus on the theme of movement and rhythm.
Sharon Glazberg’s 2016 Hammam concludes the video series with a declared tension between the geometric architecture of the video’s setting, and the fluid amorphous soap bubbles. The Sisyphean attempt to blow bubbles is declared as a failure as the bubbles explode every time they come to contact with the heated surfaces of the hammam.