A Hard Day's Night

 

Keren Anavy, Maya Bloch, Michal Chelbin, Dvir Cohen Kedar, Haimi Fenichel, Amit Fisher, David Isaacs, Maya Israel, Or Kadar, Ohad Matalon, David Nipo,Aviram Valdman, Michal Yaniv

 

The exhibition "A Hard Day's Night" sets out to expand the range of images, representations and materials reflecting the lives of wretched, hard-working people, of people who experience various difficulties in their lives, and of those individuals existing on the margins of society. The harsh economic crisis, the likes of which the world has not seen for decades, struck many population strata. People have lost their fortunes; many lost their savings and jobs, and have been forced to live at a lower standard. Although the works were not inspired directly by the present crisis, and the majority of them were created before it ever erupted, the exhibition nevertheless relates to the subject and its manifestations in the global context.

 

In contradistinction to French realism in the second half of the 19th century, whose major concerns were the ordinary man, the lower classes, and everyday life, the current exhibition strives to examine the representations, symbols, and mindsets underlying a theme tinged with dark, monochromatic hues: black labor (Hebrew expression denoting arduous unskilled work, dirty work or hackwork), blue collar, grayish life. The works are installed in an 80-year old "hall" of labor: dating back to 1929, the building originally served as a tehina factory, and was subsequently transformed into a printing press.

 

The works in the exhibition refer and respond to the social reality in diverse ways and techniques. They expose different angles, reflecting the unique style of each artist and his/her specific interests. Some feature laborers who meet the customary definition (such as coal miners, journeyman, women collecting eggs or drawing water); others contain symbols and representations of such figures (including a Mexican effigy alluding to cheap labor and the difficulties of immigration, or sugar cubes connoting hard labor and bricklaying); and yet others represent people who are not perceived as workers in the ordinary sense of the word: people who live on the margins or in social twilight zones, such as beggars or the lower classes, individuals who play roles in sexual games, alongside the genetically deformed. Some of the works present people in a domestic setting or in moments of private contemplation, whereas others depict them in times of crisis or affliction. Some of the works are, in themselves, the product of manual labor, and all of them share a conspicuous absence of the joys of life.

 

A sense of want and distress arises from many of the works. In some of these the frugality is manifested in the work materials or in the use of extra-artistic substances, such as sculpture in Ytong blocks or painting on a washrag. These pieces allude to the Arte Povera (It. poor art) movement which flourished in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s, whose members wished to undermine the dichotomy between art and life, and sculpted in everyday materials. More distinctively, however, these works refer to the Israeli "Want of Matter" tradition which, unlike its Italian counterpart, preserved an affinity with the painterly tradition.

 

Yaara Shachnai Litwin