Toony Navok, Releasing A Butterfly, Duo Exhibition, Alon Segev Gallery, Tel Aviv. Closing: August 28th, 2015
Toony Navok,Untitled (Sign #2), Manipulated drawing, Digital print, 120x35cm, 2015
Toony Navok,Untitled (Sign #2), Manipulated drawing, Digital print, 120x35cm, 2015
Toony Navok, With the Wind, With the Water (Surrounding Drawing), Video Performance, 2015
The Other Side of Drawing
C’est toujours les autres qui meurent… (it is always other people who die)- so writes Marcel Duchamp on his tombstone in Rouen. Is this simply just the last witticism, from an array of witty sayings of this 20th century artist? Years later, in a television interview, Yeshayahu Leibowitz would say things of a similar nature, but not necessarily to amuse: death, he would argue, cannot be placed on the continuum of human experience which transpires on the timeline of our existence. Consequently, a reality which is called death does not exist, there is only lack of life. Kant, so it seems, also shared this way of thinking. Two hundred years prior, in his lecture on anthropology, he related to the linguistic aspect of these insights. According to Kant, since no one can experience his or her death, the thought “I no longer exist” cannot exist; nothing can be thought if I don’t exist. He thus claims it would be a contradiction to assume a subject that negates his or her existence while speaking in the first person.
The English word scalper sounds similar to the word sculptor. Among the archaic actions done to the human head, like turning the skull into a vessel or the use of it for the performance of various rituals, the action of scalping is the only action which does not necessarily kill. It is an action performed on the other side of the head, not the face which is so identified with the human presence. The action of scalping like turning the entire body into a vessel, removes the cover of this organ enabling a chilling look into the interior of a living head.
In an article that he wrote at the beginning of his specialized training in neurology at a Viennese hospital, Sigmund Freud describes how in lab conditions one can see the nervous system in the brain completely and concretely by dipping tissues from the grey matter into a certain solution. Later, on the way towards the formulation of psychoanalysis, in attempts to trace conceptual imprints in the psychological system, Freud abandons this concrete way of thinking in favor of thought which has no chemical reaction, and examines the ways of imprinting the conceptual in the human consciousness in a completely different way. Thus, while at the outset Freud was interested in physical manifestations of the nervous system, he will later go in a different direction that in essence does not deal with physical recordings that can be observed in lab conditions but rather the imprints of the activities in the psychological system. He shows how external understanding of the system penetrates internally through sensory perception.
Some of these perceptions will not leave a trace in the system but some will leave imprints, like traces slit onto a wondrous writing pad. These are unconscious imprints, traces of unconscious memory that don’t have anything in common with conscious memory. Freud shows how, despite the fact that they were seemingly erased, the traces in these wondrous writing pads can be seen if observed from a certain angle and with proper lighting. In a similar way, something from the traces of unconscious memory can be established through the speech of a subject during analysis or through formations of the unconscious. In other words, things imprinted in the psychological system are not available for direct observation but will appear in coded manners. The way to interpret these formations, for example, a dream or a joke, will be through unraveling the handicraft of the joke or the dream in order to get to its roots, to observe it from the other side.
Monotype printing is a strange kind of printing: you spread paint on a hard plate, like glass, for example. You then attach a sheet of paper to it and draw on its reverse side. The resulting print is of course a mirror image of the original engraved drawing. This is different than the common printing technique whose goal is to duplicate and distribute, here the print is unique and cannot be reconstructed. Besides the unique quality which characterizes the monotype, it has another advantage: the slits which were engraved may appear on additional prints created from the same plate, thus the plate preserves something from everything that is imprinted on it.
Casting is a three dimensional equivalent of printing. Here too, the outcome, in this case the sculpture, is an inversion of the mold which produces it. But in this present exhibition, the mold doesn’t just produce the shape of the mass which congeals inside of it; wood cuts, which are on the interior sides of the mold, are saturated with ink and imprint figures on the surface of the sculpture, figures that are engraved on the plaster while it is still in liquid form and appear on the surface of the final outcome.
“The human language constitutes a kind of communication in which the sender receives his or her message back from the recipient in an inverse form.” Thus, argued one of the participants in one of Lacan’s seminars. Lacan warmly adopted this claim and repeated it several times in his writing. The claim refers to the way the truth of a subject arises from speech in analysis, but in a different way than the things that were thought to have been said. The unconscious, said Lacan, in one of his famous sayings, is understood like language. It can be found on the surface at all times but it is coded, and analytic knowledge allows us to listen to the words which arise from a subject’s speech, despite his or her intention to say something completely different. A subject who is split between ego and the unconscious is the one who is present in the gap between what is said and what he or she thinks has been said. An awareness of this gap enables us to understand speech which is seemingly not possible: for example, I am a speaker who speaks of the absence of existence. While a negation like this creates for Kant a contradiction which cannot be, Lacan shows how this negation presents exactly the opposite, the appearance of the subject of the unconscious in language.
The word “hayot” in Hebrew is ambiguous: it is both the word for animals and also the present tense of the word to live in its feminine, plural conjugation. Both meanings exist simultaneously; women who live are animals, or are situated on the boundary between human existence and some other existence. It is interesting to note that the letters which form the English word-HAYOT, are not influenced at all by their mirror image, so this word has no other unreadable side. Now a new meaning can be added to the word when it reverts back to Hebrew as heyot and thus assumes the meaning- being.
Efrat Biberman, June 2015
A Woman Who Stopped
In the end, it is about movement. Like the movement that leaves the text open-ended, as if to signify the transcendence of time, the distortion inherent in the linear sequence. The annals of time begin with a different ending, and what takes place in us moves in opposite directions, stopping at the moment of being christened as an image. And here, we have a woman who stopped, and more than once. She confers her consonants on whoever is interested, in order to say something about the strength needed to be passive. This is her natural language, her diction, if you like. Her ideological movement is the movement of consonants, and in order to take the helm with her lips she must rub against edges, embody passive and active states, action and passion, man and woman.
For her past is strewn with beds, riddled with previously registered prostrations. “She is lying down, he stands up”, writes Hélène Cixous. “She arises – end of the dream – what follows is sociocultural: he makes her lots of babies, she spends her youth in labor; from bed to bed…”[i] What shall we do with this woman who insists on stopping in motion? The streams of water moisten her organs, whispering: “You have long been dispossessed of yourself,” but a recalcitrant habit makes her stretch up her legs, turning the crucifixion gesture on its head.
Her body rests on the cool floor with her arms spread out, like in an emergency instruction manual she once saw, warning against being trapped in quicksand. The head is bent back, the arms float, and only the legs are already sunk deep in the downsucking force. Surrender as a first, vital resort.
Now she pulls out her legs from the grip of the everyday and uses them to outline, almost unawares, a new vertical order. Her body delineates two contradictory paths – a perpendicular, structuring, organizing, hierarchical dimension, tolerating no interruption and containing all she knows, and a horizontal, expanding, all-encompassing dimension that contains her secret. Her confidants know the rebellion embodied in a rising which is not an erection, but an ever continuous, changing, diffusive flow.
How wicked is the joy that permeates her, her unseen gaze trained on her toes, become a horizon. She can almost speak, get reacquainted with the efficiency workers that gulp up the spaces of her life, generate the role reversal, the hovering that will be their lot. She teaches them to hold what is stronger than her, like a wave she has learned to tame, inhaling air into her lungs as if she were newly born.
In the end, it is about movement.
[i] Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément, The Newly Born Woman. Trans. Betsy Wing. University of Minnesota Press, 1986, p. 66.
Ori Gersht, Matreial 11, Archival Inkjet print, 170x130cm, 2014
Noga Gallery of Contemporary Art is happy to present the fourth solo exhibition of the multidisciplinary artist Keren Cytter.The exhibition features three films :Ocean, Rosh Garden and Siren, all from 2014. Three new drawings that relates to Siren film and 35 Polaroid photographs.
Keren Cytter (b. 1977 in Tel Aviv, lives in New York) is a fertile storyteller. She works mainly with video and film and has made more than 65 scripts and films within the last decade. In 2008 she founded the dance and theatre company D.I.E. NOW (Dance International Europe Now) and in 2010 she co-founded APE – Art Projects Era, a foundation working from New York and Rotterdam with the aim to realize art projects outside of traditional institutional structures.
Keren Cytter uses visual media in strikingly original ways to build powerful and affecting narratives out of skewed scenes of everyday life. Cytter’s films, video installations, and drawings represent social realities through experimental modes of storytelling characterized by a non-linear, cyclical logic and multiple layers of images: conversation, monologue, and narration systematically composed to undermine linguistic conventions and traditional interpretation schemata. Recalling amateur home movies and video diaries, these montages of impressions, memories, and imaginings are poetic and self-referential in composition, thought provoking, and inescapably engrossing. Cytter’s pared-down style of filmmaking utilizes the barest of resources; she often films in her own apartment and incorporates intentionally kitschy, lo-fi effects. Even as Cytter’s characters enact intense moments, the actors are often emotionally detached from the drama or are even playing multiple roles; actions repeat themselves and seem out of sequence. Her work plays with the conventions of narrative cinema to reveal or upend unwritten rules, and as Cytter moves between multiple languages, plotlines, and genres within a single work, her work can foster anticipation and disbelief. Cytter also draws heavily on music to create a certain drama and atmosphere within her films. The narratives are often broken up and touch on themes of love, hate, sex, jealousy, revenge and violence.
Siren shows her typical way to narrate insane stories, mostly centered on the conflict between genders and based on disorienting flashbacks, together with new digital tools that create a new visual language and change our approach to images. In Siren Keren Cytter deals with “poor images” and their mass processing and circulation through mobile and smart- phone cameras. Images and scenes of different qualities are repeated to show the wide range of ambiguous possibilities of interpretation images can have and to insist on issues such as love and revenge: the female narrator convinces her male friend to murder another man in the name of all women to revenge unequal treatment in the battle between sexes.
Ocean opens with the written instruction, “Place your head here and your shoulders here,” whose letters compose the profile of a figure; the spectator is required to adjust, like in a subway photo booth. Then a voice starts: “If you don’t want to drown, be an ocean. You are waking up to the sound of the waves [seagulls in the background]. Your mind is an island. You are facing reality by yourself. Relax. Concentrate on the screen in front of you and face your own reflection.”
The story, whose fractured plot is told from different voices and individual viewpoints, as per usual with Cytter, takes place in a beach house. It involves a few characters, some of whom are lovers; a lonely boy; a bit of sex; several dialogues; and passionate kissing next to a bonfire, accompanied by the sticky romanticism of Leonard Cohen’s song Undertow. The voiceover, at one point coupled with the same pulsating binaural beats as Constant State of Grace, repeats instructions on what to do and how to feel until the circular logic of the video closes in on its last words: “Concentrate, look at your reflection. You are relieved. Your mind is empty. Your thoughts are public. […] You recognize your reflection and smile with the embarrassment of a blind date. Relax. Your mind is now an ocean.”
The drawings realized specifically for the exhibition, which have a dialogue with the footages from the film. The drawings on vinyl leather fabric become curtains used to play with the idea of theater curtains and of the installation.
Keren Cytter Recent solo exhibitions and performances include: Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2014), State of Concept, Athens (2014); Der Stachel des Skorpions, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2014), Institute Mathildeonhohe, Darmstadt, (2014); Where are we Now, 5th Marrakesh Biennial, (2014); High Performance. The Julia Stoschek Collection, (2014) Show Real Drama Fondazione Trussardi, Milano (2013); A Theatre Cycle, NOMAS Foundation at Teatro Valle Occupato, Rome (2013); Show Real Drama, Tate Modern Oil Tanks, London (2012); Avalanche, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2011); Project Series: Keren Cytter, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2010); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010); X Initiative, New York (2009); CCA Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu (2009).
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago will presents in March 28th the first large-scale presentation of the artist’s work in the United States. The exhibition features eight videos from the past decade and a new series of drawings and live performance works. To accompany the exhibition, the MCA and the Kunsthal Charlottenborg co-produced a new anthology of all of Cytter’s film treatments-judged as “the best” or “the worst”.