שנה טובה
 דף הבית >>חדשות אבדאע>> MARTYR, FROM TRAUMA TO TRAUM, at Prima Center Berlin, Stephan Weitzel, 2014 نص المقالة المرافقة لمعرض شهيد - من صدمة إلى حلم, برلين 26.4 -25.5.2014 بقلم الناقد شتيفان فيتزيل  

MARTYR, FROM TRAUMA TO TRAUM, at Prima Center Berlin, Stephan Weitzel, 2014 نص المقالة المرافقة لمعرض شهيد - من صدمة إلى حلم, برلين 26.4 -25.5.2014 بقلم الناقد شتيفان فيتزيل

 نص المقالة المرافقة لمعرض شهيد - من صدمة إلى حلم, برلين 26.4 -25.5.2014 بقلم الناقد شتيفان فيتزيل

  פרסום ראשון  03/06/2014 11:04:13    

From Trauma to Traum

a sense of place


on the artists of the exhibition


Salam Diab, Tim Deussen, Adi Ben Horin,

at Prima Center Berlin, 26.04 – 25.05.2014 

The strongest, the most convincing and almost always the saddest remedy against insipid whitewashing global levelling off is local conflict. We would rather not need such remedy, and renounce to the conflict the losses, be it at the cost of impressive art not to be produced. But still, lifes no picnic. So, addressing issues of ones own direct cultural environment seems to be a plausible constructive approach to life, to art, well beyond the dullness of contemporary fun-loving societies the invasive character of easy listening easy viewing. Yet looking at what concerns us all, in a given group at least, implies two aspects: first, many do not want to engage with this context, even less so when reflected – mirrored thought upon – in an art work an artistic stance, because escapism is easier, seems sometimes more important vital. Second, those who do listen view, all have an opinion on the subject, to the extent that some might insist in knowing it better...


The subjective meets the universal

Though, those who are engaged in sha the physical outcome of a state of mind forged - in people cultures - by historic processes, will do what they have to do will not pay too much attention to either those parties, at least not prito producing works for which they have to dive deep gather a kind of truth, always utterly subjective and, if of true artistic value, always utterly universal.


The name we bear is content we carry


The art works of this present exhibition,  MARTYR, FROM TRAUMA TO TRAUM, all follow those lines. The three artists, Salam Diab, Tim Deussen Adi Ben Horin do not need to be introduced any further, one might think, in order to give us a clue what their work could be about. Why? Because names are telling, often, often they mislead. But we have to acknowledge, again again, that the names we bear are content we carry. This is part of the weight with which we wander, they are one of those physical traces sha our mind by which we are read by others, may this please us not. An artist, in case he is as such not a mere product of artefact marketing, offers, particularly outside his common context, his name as the first page of his portfolio. Not only so in the case of artists producing what we easily tto qualify as political art. Because all art is political to the extent that it tells us something about its context, be it the one of materialistic, hedonistic consumerist solipsism.

  In the case we are interested in, the three names the corresponding artwork do indeed tell us more.


Salam Diab lives works within Israel as a member of the arabic minority in the city of Tamra, the city itself being populated only by Arabs. Experiencing himself as part of this opposite and working in the State of Israel as an artist with a Palestinian background, both conditions have an influence on Salam Diabs worldview the art emanating from it.

  Tim Deussen grew up in then Western Germany, in the city of Düsseldorf, during the golden years of its Art Academy School of Photography. After Germanys reunification Tim Deussen moved to the former east of Berlin started investigating the recent past of bygone GDR.

   Adi Ben Horin, who was born in a kibbutz continues living there, close to the Lebanese borders, has been influenced by the proto-socialist project of such a shielded community, though being exposed to the threat of the armed forces. As a child Adi Ben Horin used to play hide seek in the tranches cutting through the grounds as lines of defense from possible rocket attacks. In his current works one can find the traces of those long gone memories.


Tackling traumas through art 

Hence all three artists have made the experience, within their closer cultural condition, of simultaneously belonging not belonging, of a multiple, at least a double reality, forcing each of them to recognize that society is more complex than its initial appearance. All three have tackled traumas, their own ones those of their cultures countries, and they did it through their art. All three address, directly or indirectly, issues of the hero the martyr.

  Heros usually are dead. Martyrs are tragic heros, unwillingly because they have been forced into their destiny, deliberately through an act of willpower. Most commonly a martyr does not exist solely by himself. Either others have engendered his being a tragic hero, he has swept away others in his step forward. Martyrdom means suffering trauma. Art, by addressing such issues, may offer a vision, a dream, a Traum, fstep out of fate, not as an escape but as a means fgestating a liveable future.

Heros at hand

Salam Diab constantly builds the bridge between the personal the collective, hints at the interconnectedness of "small" "big" stories, of family national history. The subtle balance between concept materiality allows fboth an intellectual an emotional reading, as either one by itself would not  qualify ftestifying of the complexities the artwork refers to. Highly codified, his work draws upon symbols like the donkey, refreeing to stupidity uhappiness, but also to the ability to carry memories pain. Another recurrent motive, as a subject as a determinant, is the figure of Salam Diabs grandmother. Treated as the quintessential heroic figure, the face the silhouette of this woman not only turn into an icon intrinsic to the artists work, yet also into the signature of a condition. She is one of these tragic heros, a living martyr, a touchstone fthe artist fknowing what would need to change in order to grant her all her offspring a life that would make it possible to simply draw her portrait as the individual she is. By chosing the image of the grandmother, Salam Diab refers to time duration, to the passing on of heritage cultural belonging identity, to the specificity of place. He does not seem to be interested in merely reporting the status quo. He is rather eager to put into perspective possible ways of – lets say – redemption. In a triptych painting the six letters of the word MARTYR are distributed in such a way that the central panel bears the word ART. Art within the martyr might be this redemption, this Traum fgestating a liveable future. The grandmothers vignette face to the left, the central the righthpanel solely bear, next to the letters, a circular void amidst traces of dripped and smashed blurred paint. We would love to read into them the function of place-keepers fa new face (phase) to come.


The re-enactment of memory interrogation 

When Tim Deussen read the condensed and fictionalized autobiographical book Vernehmungsprotokolle (records of interrogation), by East German writer civic rights activist Jürgen Fuchs, he was shaken. He visited the  memorial site at Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, the Stasi prison where Jürgen Fuchs had been held captive. As a photographer, Tim Deussen experienced the place as first-hlocation fa series of staged photographs retracing, through re-enacted scenes, a kind of parcours of Jürgen Fuchss stations across the site, following the narrative line of the book. In what was to become the series Protocols, Tim Deussen was able to a very outspoken sense of place. The series starts with a depiction of the camouflaged banalized patrol wagon, continuing with detail views of ritualized gestures, like the turning of keys. Other images show the cell, empty then animated by the presence of the prisoner, offices of the interrogators, again empty and then animated by chaser chased.

  Jürgen Fuchs had been sent down under the pretext of anti-state agitation following his protest against Wolf Biermanns forced expatriation. The writer and  trained psycologist was imprisoned falmost 9 months, then liberated under the menace of a renewed long prison sentence and forced to leave the GDR to settle in West Berlin. His book condenses his experiences shows how he memorized the interrogations by various mnemonics, allowing him to write down the text after his liberation. The book later served as a kind of preparation course fothers, likely to be arrested as well.

  Tim Deussens images, though drawing clearly upon the aesthetic of the original site, never aestheticize emotions. The highly constructed shots capture smell, sound humidity of those cells corridors offices, convey a sense of affect, always respecting the dignity of those who have suffered on those premises.

  The photographs trace the portrait of a man, somewhat examplary, who has become unwillingly a martyr allegedly died of the consequences of his imprisonment. He has fought before after his time in jail, both in the East the West, simply ftruth justice the freedom of speech. Values not to be taken fgranted at any time, under any regime.


The heroic guerrillero challenging the kibbutz 

Adi Ben Horin has a weakness fChe Guevara. And this weakness is his strength: el Che is his universal hero, a governor of conceptual grounds, the ultimate secular martyr. One might wonder what this emptied out vessel is to do with a kibbutz, a vessel we all know from different contexts in which the image of the hero is charged with what seems handy at each given moment, in each given place. Based on the shot of Cuban photographer Alberto Korda, the highly graphic image stands fwhatever it is charged with, it seems. In western society it illustrates like a dream the thesis that capitalism hijacks whatever manifestation of critique counterproductive anarchy, s it into convenient merchandise. In Adi Ben Horins use of the image we need to consider the very specific context he places his work in. In his own words, "kibbutz is […] a cursed society". In a place defining itself as socialistic, located as an enclave within contemporary Israel, a State society seen as an outpost of western capitalist civilization in the Middle East, the image of Che Guevara depicted in an artwork certainly brings up different associations from the use on a printed "pre-revolutionary" T-shirt in whatever shop mall up down the consumerist continents. Within the precinct of the kibbutz the image is contained, held by the defining context. It is not so much the image itself, but where it is placed seen, that matters. In that regard the enclave community functions as a kind of exterritorial museum, the validating institution providing the keys fdecyphering meaning. Yet, as Adi Ben Horin points out, there seems to be no consciousness anymore, within kibbutz society, fthe symbols of socialistic doctrine. The image of el Che thus seems to be trapped like some tautological essence of a Russian doll merely reproducing itself in always tinier replicas, contradicting the stance of all others.

  The work Toyota, a painted car hood, depicts a white Che face on red ground, bordered by two mirroring heads of Karl Marx – providing himself fhis own dialectic - coiled up in a colored tail worthy of 70s California. The artist hang this piece in the hall of the kibbutz office building. The Chinese-made car part, the universal copyright-free icon of (self-) liberation the doubled picture of the German thinker on capital, they all form the highly condensed possible meaning of something that probably might never be determined that precisely. Though it  surely testifies to the superimposition of globalized imagery at the edge of absurdity, used within a very specific codified set-up. An act of balance. A manifesto fthe heroic quality of each individual always tangled in his very context.

  The last image of Tim Deussens Protocols shows a blbleak façade. It is the façade of Hohenschönhausen prison. An orderly arrangement of rows of barred windows, the infringement of human rights made banality. By zooming out of the specific, Tim Deussen s up the view onto an ongoing, global and ever-lasting phenomena calls upon the beholder to react and, ideally, take action. Art not merely fones edification, art fgiving fresh courage to our common cause: the cause of freedom.

                                Stephan Weitzel, 2014


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