Micha Ullman, Aviva Uri, Moshe Gershuni, Michael Druks–Hanoch Levin, Pinchas Cohen Gan, Gabriel Klasmer
Curator: Shlomit Breuer
Articulated over decades within the wide, antithetical diapason of local canonical and “marginal” art, the historical scope of Gaby & Ami Brown Collection allows for a comprehensive survey of Israeli art history, from its alleged beginning with the founding of Bezalel Academy to prevalent contemporary tendencies. In 2009 the extensive exhibition Israeli Art from the Collection of Gaby and Ami Brown was shown at the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod. According to its curator, Galia Bar Or, it offered “a journey along a paved road – ordered and shaped, finished and sealed, complete in itself as though it has always been there.” Obviously, an unassuming exhibition such as Safe Journey does not pretend to represent the whole gamut of the Collection’s various layers, but rather presents a closer look on one of its many thematic undertones.
Most of the works in this exhibition deal with texts. They incorporate a story qua basis, reference, reflection, or a set of interrelations between literary and visual authorship:
Ein Harod – a series of 30 drawings (the exhibition displays 24 of the 30), drawn by Moshe Gershuni in 1997 in a sketchbook as a diary of sorts. In this repetitive rather than chronological “diary,” he wrote time and again with charcoal the opening words of the Book of Psalms, “blessed is the man,” within a recurring landscape- or portrait-like image. This repetitive action brings to mind the “didactic” punishment of writing over and over again a verse from the Bible in a dreary routine that is imposed on an unruly pupil and would etch in his or her mind as a physically exacting and hand-numbing task rather than as something that might improve one’s understanding. And to this action, Gershuni added a leafing through images of void and perdition that may remind one of monotonous recitation of a silent prayer for the dead.
Sand Book – iron and loam sand sculptures made by Micha Ulman in 2000, which perhaps imply, in addition to the literal-material meaning of their title, the political-social gulf between holy books and secular practices (the homophonous Hebrew word חול means sand and secular).
Mr. Wolf – a work created in 1968 by Michael Druks and Hanoch Levin through a dialogue and mutual influence. Binding together Druks’s ink drawings with texts by Levin, this series deals with extinction, death, bodily wretchedness, and otherness. Among the many interpretations given to the work, was that of Raffi Lavie, who understood it as a reaction to both the euphoria that swept over Israel after the 1967 War and the intensification of nationalistic sentiments.
When will you already admit and leave
And realize yourself in a dog, in a frog.
And follow your heart’s inclination and be ruined
Like a woman following her breasts.
And from your weakness’s ores a dwarf will call:
Have a Safe Journey, Distinguished Sir.
As an alternative for the Traveler’s Prayer that is supposed to protect whoever leaves his or her house from perils and snares along the way, Levin exchanges the traditional plea with his “safe journey” blessing. Blessed is the man who will find mercy once he will accept his heart’s inclination to be ruined and will admit that his is the image of a wolf.