I PACKED ALONE...
The exhibition presents three groups of works from different decades, whose juxtaposition illustrates the diversity and wide range of Tartakover, who over the years has deconstructed the concept of personal style in his work, while at the same time preserving a unique stamp that makes his work identifiable even from a distance.
The exhibition centres on a group of suitcases, entitled “Baggage”. These works, to which Tartakover has been returning over the past decade, consist of a photograph treated through mixed media, including covering, concealing, subtracting and adding. The group’s recurrent motif is the charged image of a suitcase, which serves as the surface for his work.
Tartakover writes: “Each of us carries his ‘baggage’ with him, lugging on his hunched back his own unique load. Memories, outdated dreams, loves that have gone sour, wounds, scars, desires and hopes mixed together, thrown side by side in the imaginary suitcase, which contains the pieces of our lives – those we had, those we could have had if only, those we are yet to have. Like a modern incarnation of Pandora’s Box, a suitcase is sometimes better left closed. Opening booby-trapped boxes may release into the world a series of disasters. But it scan also contain hopes.”
Tartakover’s suitcase is the suitcase of the refugee, whose homeland is a suitcase, as Mahmoud Darwish wrote in an immortal poem, but alongside this association we can also think of “Box in a Suitcase” by Marcel Duchamp, who between 1935 and 1940 created an edition of 69 miniature reproductions of his works and placed them in a suitcase, and consequently understand Tartakover’s suitcase as moving between an iconic image that recurs in different variants, and an image that incorporates, perhaps, all the works he has ever made.
Alongside “Baggage”, Tartakover shows a selection from the series “I’m Here”. This series is composed of a cruel sequence of news images that have been engraved in the Israeli domain over the last two decades – years of terrorist attacks, Intifada and the everyday of an active military occupation. These images have been treated by Tartakover, who has inserted himself into each of them wearing a fluorescent-orange vest used by search and rescue teams arriving on disaster scenes. The back of Tartakover’s vest bears the inscription "Artist", in Hebrew and English, indicating his role in the taskforce. But Tartakover’s presence in these scenes, once they become the framed image of an event, raises the question of what is the role of art in disaster situations, and whether its presence is necessary in places where a catastrophe occurs. It seems that in this sequence of images Tartakover presents the relation between the aesthetic and the political as a problem. On the one hand he implores art to join the public effort, insisting on a proximity, albeit fictitious, to the historical events, and on the other hand he casts doubt over the real effectiveness of the artistic act in the rescue effort, that is, in relation to politics or history.
The current exhibition concludes with a video centred on the facsimile edition of the book of drawings and sketches that Tartakover made during Operation Defensive Shield (2002). The video shows hands leafing through the book in sequential order, page after page. In relation to the other works shown in the exhibition, and as the page turning progresses, the book perhaps becomes the Pandora’s Box which the suitcase could have been, the one whose opening released troubles, and then hope, out into the world.