links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

IZHAR PATKIN
THE MESSIAH’S GLASS
spelled glASS.

The Jewish Museum
Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City.

September 14 – November 11, 2012.

A work of art, an environment, a happening, an installation, an interpretation of history, an explanation of things to come, thoughts beyond objects.

The invitation to the September 11, 2012 – the 9/11 – press date to see the exhibit said:

BACKGROUND: The Jewish Museum will present Izhar Patkin: The Messiah’s glAss, a new exhibition by New York-based, Israeli born artist, Izhar Patkin. The exhibition consists of two major works. The first is You Tell Us What To Do Act III, a painting for four walls on pleated illusion (tulle) veils that envelop the entire perimeter of the ornate Offit Gallery like a continuous mural. The other is a 12-foot tall clear glass sculpture titled The Messiah’s glAss, a figurative tour de force produced at the Centre International de Recherche Sur le Verre et les Arts Plastiques (CIRVA), Marseille, over a five year period from 2003 to 2007.

The curator, of the exhibit, Mr. Norman L. Kleeblatt, told me that the background of tulle veiled four walls with the appropriate cut-outs for windows and doors was done specifically for this room at this museum. The Press contacts at the museum Ms. Anne Scher and Mr. Alex Wittenberg where helpful as well, nevertheless, what I saw in this exhibit was a little different from the factual notes. As I came here to get my own impression, I will stick to my interpretation based on my own experience without bothering if my own viewing the installation differs from what the artist said, and then was related to me via several layers of intermediaries – be that orally or in writing.

My description of the viewing experience that regards the supposedly two separate parts of the exhibit as one, and from notes taken right there as first impressions, and thoughts they caused me right there, which I related also to the museum people congratulating them for a very successful show, go as follows:

A ROOM:

IN THE MIDDLE – IN FRONT – MADE OF GLASS – SOMETHING LIKE A TABLE WITH LEGS LIKE THOSE OF A DONKEY – AND ON THE RIGHT SIDE DANGLES OF IT A DONKEY’S TAIL.

ON THIS TABLE, OR IF YOU WISH THE DONKEY’S BODY, SITS THE DONKEY’S HEAD. BETWEEN THE EARS HE HAS A CROWN THAT SHAPES UP WITH FOUR FURTHER EARS – ARE THOSE THE LEGENDARY SERAPHIM, OR PERHAPS A HINT TO GREEK MYTHOLOGICAL BACCHANALIAN FIGURES, OR A SHAKESPEAREAN MID-SUMMER DREAM, OR IS THIS THE NIJINSKY FAWN – A REMINDER OF THE-RIGHT-OF-SPRING?

ALSO ON THE TABLE, THREE MASTS – IS THIS THE SHIP OF FATE – THE SHIP OF FOOLS?

THE ROOM – EXCEPT FOR THE CUT-OUTS FOR TWO DOORS AND TWO WINDOWS – IS COVERED WITH CEILING TO FLOOR,OR DOOR OR WIDOW, A PAINTED WAVE-LIKE GAUZE.

STARTING WITH THE LEFT SIDE:

THERE IS A DONKEY PULLING A TWO-WHEELER. THE MUSTACHED DRIVER COULD BE ANYTHING – LET US SAY ARAB, BUT THE THREE PASSENGERS UN-MISTAKENLY REPRESENT THE EARLY ZIONISTS – THE STUDENT, A STATUE OD A ROMAN EMPEROR REPRESENTING SECULAR HISTORY, AND AN AGRICULTURAL WORKER. MOVING ON THIS MORPHS INTO A UTILITY POLE CROSS-LIKE AND A SHIP THAT COULD BE EXODUS OR ANY OLDER SHIP THAT TOOK THE PIONEERS TO JAFFA.

THE RIGHT SIDE:

THEODOR HERZL STANDS NEXT TO AN UN-OCCUPIED CONFERENCE TABLE. HE HOLDS ONTO A CHAIR AS IF SPEAKING – BUT THERE ARE
NO LISTENERS. NEVERTHELESS, ABOVE HIM AND TO HIS LEFT THERE IS LIFE – THE DONKEY WITHOUT THE CART ARRIVES TO SOMEPLACE THAT LOOKS LIKE JAFFA. PEOPLE ARE THERE – NEW ONES OR LOCALS?

THE BACK WALL IS AN EMPTY BEACH WITH A RED FIRE-LIKE HORIZON ON THE LEFT AND SOMETHING LIKE A SHIP OR IF YOU WISH AN OASIS ON THE RIGHT. NOW, IS THIS THE LAND THAT BECAME TEL AVIV TO THE NORTH OF JAFFA?

THE DONKEY AT THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ENTRANCE – THE CHARIOT THAT PASSES THE CROSS, HAS ON HIM RED STREAKS THAT BALANCE THE RED EXPANSE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LEFT WALL AND THAT ROUNDS INTO THE LEFT SIDE OF THE REAR WALL.  THIS WHILE ON THE RIGHT WALL THE EMPTY TABLE IS BROWN WHILE HERZL IS WRAPPED IN GOLD.

DO WE SEE HERE HOW THE GOOD INTENTIONS OF THEODOR HERZL THAT BUILT TEL AVIV ON THE EMPTY BEACH THAT WAS NORTH OF JAFFA LEAD NEVERTHELESS, UNINTENTIONALLY,  TO THE FLAMES THAT ACCOMPANIED THE SETTLEMENT OF TEL AVIV AND ISRAEL IN GENERAL?

DOES THE ARTIST, AN ISRAELI LIVING  FOR MANY YEARS IN THE US, EXPRESS HERE AN OPINION ABOUT EVENTS IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL?


ONE THING I AM CONVINCED FOR SURE – IT WOULD BE A SACRILEGE TO SEE IN THE EXTRA EARS ON TOP OF THE GLASS CONSTRUCT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROOM  A HINT TO THE CROWN ON A TORAH. THE WHOLE CONSTRUCTION IS NOTHING BUT SECULAR – A DEPICTION OF THE CREATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE FIRE IT CREATED UNINTENTIONALLY. THERE WAS THIS NAIVITE OF DOING THE MESSIAH’S WORK WITH A DONKEY, BUT THEN THE REALITY HIT THAT SOME PEOPLE WERE ALREADY THERE AND CONSTRUCTION BROUGHT ABOUT FIRES.

THE MEANING OF THE INSTALLATION IS TO BE FOUND IN THE COLORS, NOT JUST THE SHAPES. THE GOLD, BROWN AND RED ARE THE GIVE-AWAY OF THE ARTISTS FEELINGS TO THE SUBJECT OF HIS ENVIRONMENTAL CONFIGURATION.

===============================

Natan Dvir for The New York Times

Izhar Patkin at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan, where his exhibition “The Messiah’s glAss” includes a glass palanquin with a donkey’s head and testicles, and painted tulle veils on the walls.

Patkin was born in Israel in 1955 and came to the US in 1977. He made an impact in the mid-1980s with The Black Paintings – white ink on black rubber curtains – a visual  adaptation of Jean Gene’s play The Black’s: a Clown Show. His work was being marketed by the gallery owner – Holly Solomon, Later he worked with the Kasmiri poet – Agha Shalid Ali. Both these people and four other close friends died in 2001 and this led to 10 years of Mr. Patkin being away from the New York art scene. This show is sort of a come-back for him.

On the nature of the installation – Patkin said to the curator that for him “Cinema and Duchamp changed everything in painting. When I was a student, Super-8 films., performance art, and documentation of performance were the door out of the canvas ghetto. That door was very seductive. Yodat it is video, but I’m still in love with the promise of painting, and its object. For me, the curtain is a canvas. It’s not meant to be a curtain over a window. It’s meant to occupy the space of painting.”

Natan Dvir for The New York Times

A detail of the painted tulle veils on the walls from Izhar Patkin’s exhibition “The Messiah’s glAss.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article

###