Through her photographic works and film installations that conflate reality and fiction, and time and place, Yael Bartana explores the definitions and construction of identity.Read More
The collective identity promoted by her native Israel often provides a background for Yael Bartana's work. In the two-channel video Wild Seeds (2005), teenage leftist activists reenact the evacuation of Jewish settlers from the West Bank—despite some residents' protest—as a game. For the photographic series The Missing Negatives of the Sonnenfeld Collection (2008), Bartana worked with Arabs and Arab Jews living in Israel to recreate selected works by Leni and Herbert Sonnenfeld, who photographed Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s.
Yael Bartana collapses the boundary between reality and fiction to create an alternative narrative that ultimately returns to the real world. The film trilogy and Europe will be stunned (2007–2011), for example, envisions a fictional Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland led by the real-life left-wing activist Sławomir Sierakowski, who reaches out to Jewish immigrants to return. Ending with the assassination of Sierakowski's character, the trilogy alludes to the present-day rise of antisemitism in Poland and the Zionist movement.
and Europe will be stunned was presented at Moderna Museet Malmö in 2010, and later screened at the Polish Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale (2011), Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2011), Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2012), and Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2012), among other locations. In 2019, it was named one of the best artworks of the 21st century by the Guardian.
Yael Bartana has expanded her exploration of alternative narratives with such works as Inferno (2013). Set in Brazil, the film takes as its starting point the Temple of Solomon in São Paulo—a replica of the eponymous biblical temple in Jerusalem—built by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. Bartana conflates the histories and geographies of Jerusalem in antiquity and contemporary Brazil.
What If Women Ruled the World?, first staged at the Manchester International Festival in 2017, similarly introduces an alternate reality of an all-woman government. In the two-hour live performance, actresses playing members of a fictional government meet with real-life women politicians and professionals to discuss how to save the world from Doomsday. The meeting takes place in a replica of the War Room from Stanley Kubrick's 1964 satirical film Dr. Strangelove.
Yael Bartana holds a BFA from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem (1996), and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York (1999).
Abracadabra, Capitain Petzel, Berlin (2020); The Graveyard, Capitain Petzel, Berlin (2019); Pre-Enactments, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai (2017); Yael Bartana, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2016); Inferno, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Inferno, Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Ohio (2014).
The Invented History, KINDL—Zentrum für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Berlin (2020); Democracia, Centro Cultural Kirchner, Buenos Aires (2018); The Rebellion of Moving Image, Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei (2018); Welcome to Jerusalem, Jewish Museum Berlin (2017); The Revolution Is Dead—Long Live The Revolution: Socialist Realism and Its Legacy, Kunstmuseum Bern (2017); The Century Mark. Tel Aviv Museum of Art visits Berlin, Gropius Bau, Berlin (2015); Rainbow in the Dark, Moderna Museet Malmö (2015).
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