Note in the Margin (a text for Hadas Ophrat catalogue, 2006)
HO walks on a thin wire. Red (the clothing, the moment). An underground
prisoner sings a traveling song one moment before his hanging, an echo of
yesterday’s underground prisoners, today’s political prisoners (we are all political
prisoners). The installation is placed in the exercise yard of the Museum of
Underground Prisoners (“March”, ‘Heara 4′, Jerusalem 2002). The artist walks
alone, in the yard, and disrupts the declination of nouns (“my cradle, your cradle,
his cradle, her cradle, our land, your land, their land…”). Time stretches to the
edge of the gallows of time. On his back he wears a bag, sticking out from which
is a pile of eggs arranged to look like a house. This is a private ritual, naked,
before the crowd that has gathered abound him. From time to time it seems as if
everything is falling, time runs out – an egg falls from the prisoner’s back on to
the stone floor of the yard. The yard is grateful. “And the secret is not to let the
eggs break,” someone says, quoting something someone else once told him.
And he was wrong. Winter. Cold. A perfect day for carrying out the future
sentence of the Israeli artist in the courtyards of the Ministry of Defense. HO’s
sentence is not carried out in public.
The artist takes sleeping pills and chooses to escape from the reality of Israeli art
at the power station (“Insomnia”, Tel Aviv 2003). Art, in its meager dress for the
tasteless event, the artist in a symbolic, fragile and unforgettable act of sleeping
– perhaps forgotten for him the way a dream is forgotten. He warns us about
what is going on inside. Action that is minimalistic, internal, silent. Cycles of sleep
and death in 21st century Israel.***
Another type of walking was his walking blind in the Seidoff Courtyard (“Naked
Eye”,’Heara 2′, Jerusalem 2002). Here the artist portrays a figure from a Baroque
carving. He walks with his eyes covered, with the aid of two canes. The pain of
the blind man and the construction of a place in a temporary state of blindness,
an act of identifying boundaries, of losing one’s way. That same day there was a
bombing in the Mahane Yehuda market, 100 meters away. A dead-end situation,
constantly returning, time stretching out, walking in the dark.
And we shared with him his sleep in the power station, we walked with him along
the thin wire at the Underground Prisoners’ Museum, and we understood the
danger that understood him and us. Invitations to reflect on the minimal, the
basic: walking, death, the body, time, words. And the video documentation of
these works is, perhaps, an expression of another loneliness, an archive of
memory, an alternative text, a note on the heart of the matter.
Lea Mauas and Diego Rotman / Sala-Manca
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