In her new exhibition, Sea of Galilee, Orly Maiberg returns to the sea. But the sea is not the same sea. It is not the expressionist, devouring sea, nor the gentle twilight sea of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, so familiar to us from her earlier exhibitions. This is the Sea of Galilee with its religious, cultural and national symbolism as well as a mecca for sports, holidays, fun.
What begins as the popular sporting event of swimming across as a means of instilling in us a feeling of common national goals –- so precisely described by the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbaum –- suddenly changes. It turns into defeat, persecution, escape, exile, into a search for a safe haven
The swimmers who begin their trek as sport become nothing but nameless survivors in its midst. They are crowded on rafts, elbowing one another on makeshift boats, trying to escape to an unknown future. Their identity – if they have one – is given to them in the form of their number in the competition, whose rules have changed and now it is nothing but a trap. The shores of the Sea of Galilee are not the shore that is visible on the horizon, nor the shore that is left behind, but a parallel shore – undesired one.
We leave them thus, abandoned to their fate, men and women with their roots in water, a mass, moving from here to there, from there to here.
– Ilana Bernstein