Category Reviews

Review:: ‘This Bloody Excrement Is My Testament’

Review of Noam Edry’s solo show and performance ‘The Silver Salver’ at the Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel, which marked the end of 2011 and the inauguration of the new Miron Sima Auditorium

Photo: Guy Barkan

We love the pink low-calorie lychee these days, its sweet and perfumy flesh makes a fabulous cocktail and it is the perfect smoothie ingredient with its high levels of Vitamin C, fiber and potassium. There are, however, good lychees and bad lychees, so make sure to buy the right one. If two legs are embracing the pit of the moaning, groaning and sighing lychee, moving from hysteria to orgasm and back again, you might have encountered an Israeli lychee. There are also bad dates and oranges which will bleed, moan, shit and cry.

The silver coated floor of The Ein Harod Museum of Art was stained by an uncontrollable flow of blood during the opening of Noam Edry’s solo museum show The Silver Salver and the coinciding inauguration of the new Miron Sima Auditorium, which was celebrated with the unveiling of a gigantic rock’n’roll war machine chickpea. Women, men and children in the audience searched for pieces of tissue to give the bleeding orange a helping hand, when a screaming woman suddenly shot through the crowd. The first part of the shocking performance lasted 90 minutes, during which the lychee, the date and the bleeding orange were rattling and shaking on the silver floor (the silver platter), moving around and between the spectators and wreaking havoc across the entire museum.

Photo: Guy Barkan

Photo: Guy Barkan

The emotional reality of the helplessness experienced in a country with mandatory military service and where people blow themselves up to kill others is only one aspect of the multi-layered silver platter. By using elements deeply embedded in the language of performance art, Edry invites the audience to reflect upon values as well as the lack of values, both on a personal and a political level. Edry’s combination of performance art and sculpture allows her to oversee the extravaganza like the director of a chaotic circus.

In the artist’s own words, “‘The Silver Salver‘ examines the real “fruits” exported by Israeli society; what is the price of being Israeli, what part does the individual play in it? From a feminist point of view, it is about the forced sacrifices of Israeli women and in many ways, all women. We sacrifice our womanhood in this society and in every society; served on silver platters like exotic fruits. You want exotic fruits? Here, you can have them. They are going to scream, yell, faint, puke, bleed, get wet and get dry and all that. You want a woman – you get a woman.”

 

Photo: Omer Ben Zvi

 

In this work, the woman is reduced to an equation of her circumstances, random coincidences of life and controlling structures of political, biological and social systems. From this point of view womanhood is not a pretty sight and the collective illusion, i.e. our shared beliefs about what the real, successful and complete woman is like, are torn to pieces because of the undeniably human element of the liquids and sounds coming out of the sculptures’ bodies. Edry’s position is still critical towards current frames of thought and it might be suggested that she is asking her fellow women to get a grip and to stop victimizing themselves despite the inherited burdens; they will not ”go away”, action is required. Her recent shows have made both women and men cry, because this is a struggle all conscious human beings will recognize; it is a fight for individual freedom within society.

After the surprisingly wide-spanning, coherent and powerful MFA graduation show Conversation Pieces – Scenes of Unfashionable Life at Goldsmiths in London (July 2011), Edry received the commission from Dr Galia Bar Or, Curator and Director of The Museum of Art, Ein Harod. The main inspiration for the show was the poem The Silver Salver, written in 1947 by Nathan Alterman. The poem is based on the saying “The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter”, attributed to Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann. The dream of an equal and functional two state solution lives on among both Arabs and Jews, but the conflict persists. The hysterical date and the sexually repressed lychee can be understood as symbols of the Israeli people’s moaning and groaning about the situation. The political dimension of the work is a double-edged sword, where Edry is communicating the national sacrifice as well as the responsibility of each individual citizen to face reality and to put their shoulder to the wheel. “We sacrifice the possibility of contributing to the world, because we are being boycotted and barred from academies. Are we going to continue this stale mate?” the artist continues. “Are my children going to have to go to the army? We think we are in control, but life is dictated to us by men in positions of power.”

 

Photo: Reut Kersz

Photo: Guy Barkan

 

The inauguration itself was the grand finale of the performance in which the giant chickpea monument covered in royal blue satin with a golden ribbon, was unveiled by Edry and the chief curator. They were both dressed in silver and conducted the ceremony like a couple of space army generals.  One of the four crewmen, the armed almighty rock star, appeared on top of the sculpture and started humping his gun aggressively, causing the entire sculpture to rattle in line with a loud bass beat and an increasingly mad harmonica melody coming from inside of the sculpture. Two adjacent larger-than-life wall projections transmitted what was going on inside and outside the chickpea, culminating in a beautifully grotesque image of the hero’s naked bottom wobbling uncontrollably. Smoke and strobe lights created an urgent feeling of rock’n’roll war á la Hollywood. He was the cool guy, wasn’t he? We have seen him in many film productions. He is the bad guy who gets the pretty woman and he is the face of Israel. Was it a coincidence that the chickpea resembled an obese bottom or a giant pair of testicles, rattling and shaking like fat? The man in control made love to the weapon until he finally reached a climax and shot hundreds of boiled chickpeas towards the audience.

Edry explains, “I wanted to make people understand that this is what we look like from the outside. The spectacle of the female fruits hadn’t changed a thing, because despite their impact, influence and inspiration, we were still stuck with this enormous thing spraying the audience with its seeds of war. It is about our lack of control in this social order.”

DJ Food’s Cosmic Travels at Pure Evil gallery

We leave ordinary life outside as we enter Pure Evil gallery for the DJ Food exhibition on this fine Thursday evening in an increasingly cold and miserable London. DJ Food’s The Search Engine has finally been released on Ninja Tune and this exhibition is showcasing sound, visuals and fine art connected to the close-to one hour of revelation of sonic pleasure. On the ground floor, the crowd is lounging around, sipping beer, networking and loosing themselves in the intricate, mind-numbing and enticing art of Henry Flint, comic book illustrator of 2000AD as well as freestyling artist. A mixed flavor of unstoppable creative flows come together at this show at Pure Evil gallery, which can be explained by the owner’s, Charles ‘Pure Evil’ Uzzell-Edwards, love for all things creative. In addition to Henry Flint’s mind tripping artworks, DJ Food’s psychedelic audiovisual installation and the collaboration between the two, Will Cooper-Mitchell’s hot photographs of DJ Food in a replica astronaut suit are on display. All this is featured in a limited comic-sized 48-page CD booklet for sale at the gallery.

DJ Food, who has been a fan and a collector of Henry Flint’s art/illustrations for years, writes on his blog that Henry Flint’s work was the main source of inspiration for this exhibition.  We can read how their collaboration begun on NinaTune.net: “The images were exactly what he [DJ Food] had been looking for as the starting point for the artwork on a series of EPs he was making, later to form an album on Ninja Tune. Henry sent a stack of images for Kev [DJ Food] to pick from and gave him permission to color them for the artwork, which were issued as foldout poster covers on three 12″ EPs.”

I know what is hiding in the basement and make my way down into the audiovisual world of DJ Food aka Strictly Kev. The powerful installation is pulsating in our vision and in our ears, inviting us to jump on that space train with loose teasing rhythms in curious sonic collages. Do I need to mention that the ambiance is hypnotic? The visuals contain details of molecular worlds of unknown life forms and entrancing mandalas are flying over our faces like an extra layer of skin. It strikes me that we are wrapped up in an angular momentum here; the force vibrates between the layers, smoothly merged together in time and the extended body of this mass affects us in some way as we sip our Peroni, but I am not sure how. DJ Food’s sonic art is not disturbing as Gordon Mumma’s The Dresden Interleaf 13 February 1945 from 1965, the notorious noise piece performed on the twentieth anniversary of the firestorm bombing of Dresden, because rather than reacting politically to a world in disorder, Strictly Kev is reacting poetically to the cosmos and the aim of his music is to take us out of the material realm and further. If this music, this sonic art, had been played to Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, who was head of the Royal Air Force during the bombings of Dresden in 1945, he would have resigned and enrolled for NACA (early NASA).

“I began to see sounds, to feel sounds, like waves against my skin […] Have you ever touch a sound? Ever seen thunder?” From In Orbit Every Monday on The Search Engine

As described by Robert Lamb, one of Discovery News’ contributors, DJ Food has been “dropping cosmic noise, robotic bleeps and alien hip-hop on Solid Steel Radio Show listeners for 17 years”.  Coldcut and PC of the Cinematic Orchestra were originally included under the banner ‘DJ Food’, which is now synonymous to Ninja Tune artist Strictly Kev. “DJ Food?” The name puts a smile on people’s faces, but honestly, I want to eat his recent Ninja Tune release The Search Engine. He is still an ambassador of sonically enhanced poetry and track 5 Sentinel (Shadow Guard) rests on the meanest bass line since Squarepusher’s Tetra-Sync. If there is one element that is missing in the show in order to reflect the essence of DJ Food, it is the lyrical. A spoken word performance would be an interesting addition to the next exhibition.

 

DJ Food asked Henry Flint to draw “A cosmonaut, hanging in space, strapped into an unfeasibly large backpack, the kind you could only wear in zero gravity”

A wide range of art works by Henry Flint is on display and he certainly knows how to use that ink. His art has a life of its own. As an artist, his subject matters evolve around a universe with magnificent potential, mystery and demons lurking in the corners of impossible buildings and perplexing situations; monstrous misfits and unseen patterns pour out of the subconscious mind of an artist who could have been an architect was it not that he had too good ideas.  There is dazzling movement, detail, diversity and complexity; all of which comes beautifully together within a sheet of paper. I am almost upset that I haven’t come across his work earlier, but I now have the accompanying publication BROADCAST – The TV Doodles of Henry Flint. This is a compilation of works Flint made while allowing his conscious mind to be distracted by the TV, hence leaving the subconscious in charge.

Many years passed since DJ Food delivered a full length to the world and as I look back on the release of Kaleidoscope in 2000, I remember many nights with The Crow on repeat. In my industrial hometown in Sweden, Västerås, we were listening to the album with awe while plowing the Internet for useful Cubase VST plugins and VJ softwares, painting on the walls and writing poetry in between. DJ Food has always inspired hyper creativity and it is only to be expected that he manages to put this night together at the Pure Evil gallery, with the help of Pure Evil and his beautiful assistant Molly. 

The icing on the cake is when Pure Evil comes downstairs and opens up the door to his old school music studio. He urges us to come over and jam on drum machines and on “I think they call them drum kits. It is what they used in the old days to make a beat.”

 

Briefly:: Jake or Dinos Chapman

10th August 2011

After a slightly anxious sleep in riot crazed London, I stumbled down to Hoxton Square to see the Chapman Brothers’ show ‘Jake or Dinos Chapman’ at the White Cube Gallery. My first thought was that Dinos’ and Jake’s vision was based on a clear and intelligent rendering of today’s London.

There they were; the Riot Kids dressed in black with hoodies and an obstinate posture, gathered in front of a muddy and eerie painting depicting an illustration from a twisted children’s book. When you enter the exhibition the Kids in Black are positioned in the far end of the ground-floor gallery and while approaching them, you walk past odd sculptural structures, with tribal African artifacts and numerous discolored q-tips, and big paintings suggesting the dark side of Disney. The grouped kids’ deranged faces hits you like kick in the stomach, even though you have already seen the images before coming there; they are transforming into animals. Where there should have been a school emblem, the Swastika shines with creepy splendor accompanied by the words “They Teach Us Nothing”.

While examining their faces, wondering “What happened to you? Who did this to you?” the discomfort of the viewer reaches a crescendo; they are too many and they know too much of the world already for anyone to cradle them back into the safe zone. In George Orwell’s book “1984” there was no chance to convince the screaming adrenaline monsters in the parade during Hate Week to chill out and do something more creative and productive. With a complete sense of impotence and helplessness, it is time to enter the upstairs Gallery.

 

“Our Father, Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
Amen”

 

On the second floor, the impeccably soft-skinned Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ are covered in their own blood, with faces without skin and disfiguring elements á la Cronenberg. I recalled the porcelain plate beautifully painted with a bedtime prayer which hung on the wall above my bed in a pink room full of dolls and stuffed animals and I remembered the day when I looked at it with disappointment and decided to transfer it to a box in the basement. The plate was replaced with a sexy pop-star poster. The heroes fall steadily.

“So, where do we go from here?” is the question echoing throughout the White Cube Gallery. The comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell must be applauding The Chapman Brothers from the clouds. In a mindless political climate it takes an artist to speak the ugly truth and in short this exhibition is a contemplated reflection of a messed up world at present.

Briefly:: Hackney Riot

“…With a bag full of anxious, moaning and singing stuffed animals…”

Unlike most parts of London, Hackney is not over-crowded by police in these ambiguous times. An upset man threw his bicycle down the stairs at Hackney Rail Station and yelled “You don’t know me! Welcome to fucking East London!!”

The welcoming atmosphere at Angus Hughes Gallery on Lower Clapton Road offered much more warmth and entertainment during last night’s show ‘Acoustic Sessions’.

The man who caught my eye and smile was Goldsmiths Graduate Frog Morris. With a bag full of anxious, moaning and singing stuffed animals and a hilarious folk poetic pop repertoire based on contemporary fables, he gave us all a new perspective on the gloomy and sometimes heartbreaking reality of the Horse, the Badger, the Donkey and more.

Bike Porn Festival at Passing Clouds

“…through town she glides like a glistening jewel towards a spot where no cars go. There is nothing but grass, trees, sun and sky accompanying her and her bike as she lies down, places the bike on top of herself and frees her breasts from the dress; they are pushed up against the bike’s cold hard steel.”

This Bike Porn Festival at Passing Clouds was brought together by engaged spirits of the east London biking community and the American Bike Smut duo Reverend Phil and Poppy Cox. For three hours all we cared about was Bike Porn and the event escalated to fulfill our wishes through an unbelievable journey starting with innocent games and ending up with men and women enjoying bikes and each other in screened movies gathered from around the world and brought to our field of vision by Bike Smut. Or, how free spirited it ended I don’t know, because I didn’t stay for the afterparty.

 

A fun race prior to the screenings

Everything about bikes is sexy; the ride, the wind, the sweat, the freedom, the muscles and the anarchy. I had never thought of taking it that far myself, but I can see where it’s coming from. The curiosity towards the event brought together so many people and the upstairs room at Passing Clouds proved to be too small. It was so crowded and hot that towards the end we were panting like dogs.

 

“Bike Porn is a collection of short erotic films made by inspired cyclists from all over the world.  It is creative, clever, funny, and aware! The Bike Porn Film Festival is now in its 5th year and has never been just a single person’s vision, rather, a coalition of the horny work together to bring this synthesis of transportation and sexuality to life.” Bikesmut.com

This is in fact not a male dominated community; a fair amount of female orgasms were played out before our eyes and female masturbation was specifically encouraged and visually experimented in several of the videos.  Imagine: A woman wakes up in the morning in her bed next to her partner; he is sleeping. A feeling of excitement comes over her as she is visualizing biking down a country side road; her hair plays in the wind as she is seated firmly on the seat pushing against her crouch. The woman starts caressing her round soft breasts and she approaches him, her hand sliding down under the duvet… He grunts and turns to the side. (This is where the male presenter who can be shown in the introduction yells ‘LOOOOSEER!’)

She gets up, puts on a pretty dress, does her make-up and walks down to the bicycle with bright red smiling lips to set out on a journey without her boring boyfriend; through town she glides like a glistening jewel towards a spot where no cars go. There is nothing but grass, trees, sun and sky accompanying her and her bike as she lies down, places the bike on top of herself and frees her breasts from the dress; they are pushed up against the bike’s cold hard steel. A few minutes of her smiling pleasure as she is giving herself what she deserves, with all the close-ups expected at a Bike Porn Festival, but it never gets ugly or wrong. The woman is loving it and in her hands she has the power to steer the pleasure into sweet ecstasy.

 

This is all I am allowed to show you (excuse me for screaming into the mic)

In another movie, we saw a woman masturbating with all the energy she could assemble; rattling in bed as if she was having an Epileptic seizure. Right after her pulsating orgasm, her girlfriend comes home with a new DIY tall bike with fabulous features and is enraged to see what her girl had been getting off on: catalogues with shiny, expensively manufactured custom-made bikes. We had seen her creating the tall bike in a garage; welding, joining, grinding and sawing, only to come home and discover this betrayal. She punished her girlfriend thoroughly by tying her arm wrists thoroughly to the tall bike and spanking her.

This is what Bike Smut and The Bike Porn Festival is all about; sexual freedom and, yes, bikes.

 

ArtReview’s ThinkTank DrinkTank at the ICA

Artist Pablo Bronstein in conversation with Tom Emerson and Stephanie Macdonald from 6a Architects for the first of an ongoing series of informal talks programmed by ArtReview Magazine in collaboration with the ICA, 26 June 2011

“London is not a city that was designed, like Paris. It’s a city that just continues accumulating stuff… London just resists being organized.” Tom Emerson, 6a Architects

The evening’s visitors cuddled together in the ICA studio, designed by 6a Architects. Not so much cuddling perhaps, but a very pleasant and chilled-out atmosphere accompanied by a live orchestra outside (lucky chance).

Topics discussed were of course Pablo Bronstein’s work – 6a Architects work – Purpose and consequence of space/architecture/design – Silly trends in architecture & art and Bronstein’s dealer’s sudden weakness for retro furniture -The wet digital dream not which is not so wet anymore – Bronstein’s desire: a Bungalow

[“The Regency style of architecture refers primarily to buildings built in Britain during the period in the early 19th century when George IV was Prince Regent, and also to later buildings following the same style. The style corresponds to the Biedermeier style in the German-speaking lands, Federal style in the United States and to the French Empire style.” Wikipedia]

The ArtReview crowd is cool, down to earth and funky, so it is worth attending again and again. On top of that, a free issue of the latest number of ArtReview was handed out at the end. I lost mine half way through the reading thanks to an old lady with a plastic bag full of liquid coffee… But fortunately a digital archive of ArtReview Magazine can be found on: www.artreviewdigital.com

Further, there are many layers to Pablo Bronstein’s exhibition at the ICA to explore.
Conclusion: Personal, Inspiring & Educating

A mind-blowing Goldsmiths’ MFA Graduate Show 2011

 

What has Noam Edry, a female Israeli artist, born in Haifa, raised in up Kibbutz and newly graduated from Goldsmiths University in London (MFA) in common with Steven Cohen, a South African Jewish homosexual performance artist? They both make ground-breaking art with an explosive expression derived from and based upon an overwhelming life experience. Their art somehow articulates the difficulty (to the verge of impossibility) to be a human being stretched between cultures, religions, ideologies and countries.

After having spent three months in an army mental asylum when he refused to bear arms in the whites only South African Defense Force, Steven Cohen dedicated the remaining 21 months to secretly studying photographic silk screen techniques at night. Ten years later after “a decade of being hungry and angry and constantly working” (1), Mr. Cohen spent several months bed-ridden in hospital due to several diseases simultaneously. At the end of it, having forcefully experienced the “unexplored palette”(2) of his body, Mr. Cohen made the decision to use his own body as canvas. In a similar manner, although the product is entirely different, does Noam Edry reveal her inside to the audience at Goldsmiths University in London at the MA Graduate show, which can now be seen in the Ben Pimlott Building and Laurie Grove Baths. By the use of documentary video mixed with contemporary sonic and visual art, Edry manages to bring reality further, into a realm of extreme realism.

The experience started at the entrance, where the hired security guard insisted on checking our bags and I, not realizing what was ahead of me, jokingly said that my bag was indeed full of bombs. In the first section we were offered a relaxing massage by a professional, a woman was laying down receiving what looked to be a very comfortable treatment. Already at this stage it was a puzzling experience and I proceeded to the “Groovy Little War Mix”; a Video installation screened on a tiny TV, a relic from only 15 years back. The soundtrack was indeed a groovy little mix and the video footage presented documented war scenes, scratching back and forth like a hardcore edited cool music video. The original sound had been mixed in with the music, which filled the big space with a surreal mixture of war and fun. My gaze wandered back to the relaxing corner next to the entrance of the room before I proceeded further into this impossible scenery, making my way through the crowd. I had to carefully watch my step to not slip on a piece of junk that had been spread across the room as a part of the installation.

 

Video peek of Noam Edry’s installation ‘Groovy little war mix’

Noam Edry works with all mediums at once; big paintings, drawings, video, sound, sculpture and performance; all continuously flowing throughout the exhibition and sort of joined together into one big installation and on top of it all we were given a performance piece by Edry that I will never forget. In a beautiful white suit, elegant high heels and wild long curly hair, Edry confidently entered the exhibition room. As she reached the middle of room, Edry informed a crowd that they were in fact standing in a hole. Pointing at 4 marks on the floor, she explained that inside the marks there was nothing but a hole. The crowd emptied the area and we were all asked to take one minute to visualize a hole, while staring at the space on the floor. We did. Just as I was about to reach the acceptance of an invisible hole, a panicked woman ran in to the room screaming her heart out, screaming and screaming and finally throwing herself down on the floor and disappearing into a sculpture, which to me at that point looked like a pile of mud or perhaps a dirty blanket, where she was hiding away from that which she was running from.

Video: Performance at the opening night

 

    

 

I walked out in silence and I can still feel my heart beat just a bit heavier. Thereason for me to draw a parallel to the performance artist Steven Cohen is to highlight how art is able to communicate life stories, tragic and heroic all at once. It can be fun, funky, bizarre, heart-tearing and amusing at the same instant. It is real life bubbling up to the surface, revealed by artists with great courage. We will certainly be seeing more of Edry, a fresh young British artist graduating from the same University as Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas amongst others.

        

Event Information (3)
Location: Goldsmiths University: Ben Pimlott Building, Laurie Grove Baths
Cost: Free

Times:
 14 July 2011, 18:00 – 21:00
 15 July 2011, 10:00 – 19:00
 16 July 2011, 10:00 – 19:00
 17 July 2011, 10:00 – 16:00
 18 July 2011, 10:00 – 19:00

1. ‘Interviews’ by Gerald Matt, Director at Kunsthalle Wien, Published 2007, Interview with Steven Cohen
2. ‘Interviews’ by Gerald Matt, Director at Kunsthalle Wien, Published 2007, Interview with Steven Cohen
3. Goldsmiths University website: www.gold.ac.uk

 

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[More on Noam Edry]

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Interview Series 2011

Part 1 – A constant battle for the freedom of speech in a web of taboos and envy

Part 2 – From sharp-edged politics to an S&M club and back again

Part 3 – “I Am the Terrorist”

Feature on Childhood

Born a War Painter

Reviews

Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israel, 2012

Goldsmiths MFA 2011