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Nation's Square

Curator: Hadas Kedar

Yochai Avrahami, Michal Erez, Ayelet Gazit, Michael Gross, Ari Libsker, Yariv Spivak, Shay-Lee Uziel, Menashe Kadishman, Gym & Tony.

Aber Art Showroom, Tel Aviv - Jaffa

2008

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Back from the Market to the Square / Dr. Dror Pimentel

 

(The following is an abridged text, translated from Hebrew that appears in the catalog of the exhibition Nation’s Square)

 

One hundred years after the establishment of the Zionist movement, and sixty years after the establishment of the State of Israel, we have reached the place from which we began: the place without the place; the nihilistic place. The contemporary branded nihilism in which we are held hostage is no less dangerous than the exile nihilism in which we were held then.

 

This is, if you will, the ‘difference’ of Zionism: the Zionist thing can appear only in its disappearance into its branding. Thus, we are in exile in the very heart of the place (Hamakom). The return from exile did not end with a return home. Zionism is not an odyssey. The return from exile created a new exile, prevailing within the place. And maybe it never was. And perhaps the fate of Zionism is to be subjected to a constant exile. And perhaps the fate of the loaf (kikar) of bread is to become the nation’s square (kikar) from the moment it came out of the oven.

And what about art and the Nation’s Square? Does art also want to showcase itself and to be sold at the highest possible price? In recent years, art has become a more lucrative business than ever. Its symbolic assets have been privatized, and are immediately translated into economic values. Art schools now serve as a rubber stamp for the economic fantasies of young artists. Thanks to them, they brand themselves with the high values ​​of "culture" and "art", values ​​that allow them to be sold at record prices.

 

No, the artist is not a homeless person. The artist has a place in the place, by right and not by grace. But what really is the artist's place in the place without the place? Why are artists needed? As Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Benjamin knew, art is the supreme expression of longing for the thingness of the thing, of its appearance, of its revelation, of its return, whether it is called a being, an aura, a source, or a desire for power. In art there is something of the thing. Art has always spoken the thing. It is the speech that gives her a place instead.

 

Art and Zionism find themselves on the same side of the barricade, for in both of them the desire to speak pulsates. The work of art on the one hand and the work of bread on the other are the same, in the sense that they both work the same thing. Similar to Zionism, the place of art was earned through the work of the thing. But will the fate of art be like the fate of Zionism? Will art also become art without art? Will she, too, put on the veil of branding?

 

Art without art is nihilistic art. Art must constantly puncture the economy of goods and brands, and maintain its heterogeneity at the heart of the homogeneity of capitalism. Art is a terrorist attack. Art must collect one by one the remnants of the thing from the wilderness land of goods and brands, and hang them on the walls of galleries and museums as a monument to the loss of the thing.

The heterogeneity of art is summed up in its non-tradability. Art is the thing that eludes the commodity economy. Art is the trace of a thing that will never be bought with money. That is why so many follow it, and are willing to spend huge sums to be its temporary owners. Here we are faced with a confusion: the non-marketability of art only increases the desire for it. The consumer of art feels that there is something else in art that he wants to get his hands on. The consumer of art is tempted to believe that the grip on art will guarantee him a grip on the absent thing of all things.

 

It is the gap between the non-marketability of art and the consumer desire for it that can give it space. For on the one hand, to exist means to be consumable. Nothing escapes the order of the goods. If no one wants to consume the art, it will soon find itself outside. But on the other hand, if it is positioned in the economy as one of the things, it will lose its radical exclusion. Art finds itself in an a priori state, in which it must present itself as an exchange value that cannot be traded; an economy of what eludes any economy. This duplicity must be guarded with all vigilance. Art must be both in and out of trade: art must present itself as an object of consumer passion, and at the same time work the non-negotiable in its incarnation.

 

The exhibition Nation’s Square taking place in the Nation’s Square in Tel Aviv, holds a pharmakonic (Pharmakon, in philosophy and critical theory, is a composite of three meanings: remedy, poison, and scapegoat), deceptive and unsettling presence: while instilling in its critics the illusion that they are looking at goods, it eludes the order of trade. It is also a marranic (Marranos were Spanish and Portuguese Jews living in the Iberian Peninsula who converted or were forced to convert to Christianity during the Middle Ages, yet continued to practice Judaism in secrecy.) and extimic (Lacan coins the term extimité by applying the prefix ex -- from exterieur, "exterior" -- to the Freud word intimité -- "intimacy") presence: it is marranic, because while outwardly observing the laws of commerce, it devoutly preserves in its home the religion of the thing. Like the converted Jew, her mouth and her heart are not equal: her mouth says trade, but her heart says the thing. Extimic, because it appears in the quarry of capitalism as the most foreign thing to it. Appearing as a commodity, it entices its consumers to evade the trade order. It entices its consumers not to things, but to the thing.

 

In its pharmakonic, marranic and extimic presence, art also guarantees us a home. This is a strange house, because it is not a house to which one returns from exile, but a house that resides in the heart of the exile, which resides in the house. Art is the home that dwells in exile within our home. Is it in the power of art to re-establish itself among the ruins of the Zionist utopia, and to try and fulfill its promise again? Does it have the power to make home again the home that has become exile? Does it have the power to bring us home from exile in our home?

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Exhibition Catalog

Nation's Square (Hebrew), Tel Aviv, 2008 
Hebrew

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