Hilla Ben Ari | Alice Cattaneo
June 22 - September 3 2015
Hilla Ben Ari returns to Rome to present her latest work Na’amah: A Tribute to Nachum Benari, a video work created for the Ein Harod Art Museum (Israel). Nachum Benari, writer and intellectual born in the Ukraine in 1893, was the artist’s great uncle and one of the founders of both the Ein Harod Museum and the nearby kibbutz. During his lifetime Nachum Benari published many academic essays and theatrical works, including Tubal-Cain (1951), a biblical-themed text which examines issues such as arrogance, guilt and punishment within a collective setting. This theatrical work proved inspirational for Hilla Ben Ari’s latest video work. She focuses on the marginal character Na’amah— silent sister of Tubal-Cain and daugther of Lamec who toiled as a gleaner—in an attempt to retell the biblical tale through problems related to gender issues. Na’amah represents a sacrificial victim of more powerful forces; the feminine figure constrained to silence and emarginated by the men of her own family who are able only in this way to impose their own presence. As usual in her work, Hilla Ben Ari communicates through body language to narrate about human relations and mental states; she puts these to the test through physical force, constraining them into uncomfortable positions for various minutes. Bodies are blocked in plastic forms, vibrating sculptures pulsating with tension and on the point of exploding. In the video, groups of persons are seen to be in opposition with individuals, expressing the dynamics of a group context; the actions are contained within the harsh, spartan scaffolding which delimits the forestage. Void of narrative, the video is essential and lyrical, with a sequence of images highlighting the physical states of strength, weakness and collapse.
The same tension of precarious equilibrium is embodied in Alice Cattaneo’s sculptures, exhibited for the first time at Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch. The Milan-born artist works on forms and materials, plastic, flexible or changeable; sometimes functional to her own mental imagery, other times the materials take precedence in creating artistic dialogue. As the artist explains, “It is an experience rather similar to what one feels in front of a landscape when you have the sensation of not really being able to see it; you feel blocked in front of the sight before your eyes. Her work is rooted in experiences of this kind, the impossibility of being able to see creates a sort of suspension in space and time which exists before the real perception of the world. Something akin to an area of transition”. (*) Thus, precarious structures are formed; they are assembled according to a pure plastic sensitivity, bringing together metallic grids, wooden sticks and sheets of plexiglass in a Constructivist gnarl. The understanding between materials is a form of poetics, created from the physical and private relationship between themselves and the surroundings where her installation are located. An almost sacred intimacy takes over the space which is charged with an unexpressed expectancy born from the transitory nature of the works, which seem on the point of transforming into something else.
Na’amah: A Tribute to Nachum Benari: Filming, editing, and cinematic consulting: Asaf Saban / Assistant Director: Yahel Dotan / Sound: Yoni Niv / Group Choreography: Shuli Enosh / Art: Salit Krac and Yahel Dotan / Lighting: Nachshon Kaplan / Musicians: Dan Weinstein, Ofer Bymel, Tom Soloveitzik, Yoni Niv. With the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the Yagurim Association, RENUAR Fashion.
(*) Interview Artribune 19-02-2015 by Davide Del Sasso
Hilla Ben Ari (Kibbutz Yagur, 1972) lives and works in Tel-Aviv. In 2006 she completed her Masters degree in Poetics and Comparative Literature at the University of Tel- Aviv. Some of her more significant exhibitions: Hilla Ben Ari | Naamah - A Tribute to Nahum Benari, Museum of Art, Ein Harod, Israele (2015); OFF-Biennale, Budapest (2015); The Chicago Triangel, Haifa Museum of Art, Israel (2014); Fair Play, MAXXI, Rome (2014); Iconica – Arte Urbana, Foro Italico, Rome (2014); Epos 4 - The International Art Film Festival, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art (2013); Lucretia, Artisti in Residenza #4, MACRO Museo Arte Contemporanea Rome, (2013); OC Collects, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California (2012); Daily Reports, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest (2012); Falling in Line, Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch, Rome (2011); Asian Art Biennial, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, (2009); Hibernation, The Center for Contemporary Art, Tel-Aviv (2007); Diana, Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Israel (2004).
Alice Cattaneo (Milan, 1976) lives and works in Milan. In 2004 she completed her Master degree in Fine Arts and Sculpture at the San Francisco Art Institute. Some of her most important exhibitions include: Ritratto dell’artista da giovane, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2014); Autoritratti. Iscrizioni del femminile nell’arte Italiana contemporanea, MAMbo, Bologna (2013); Performing Structures, Wäscherei Kunstverein, Zurich (2012); The Fourth Guangzhou Triennal, Guangdong Museum of Art, China (2012); Arte Essenziale, Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia / Frankfurt Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2011); Terre Vulnerabili, Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2010); La scultura Italiana del XXI secolo, Fondazione Pomodoro, Milan (2010); L’Elogio della Semplicità, Palazzo delle Stelline, Milan (2010); Alice Cattaneo, MADRE Museo d’Arte Donna Regina, Naples (2008). Prizes and residencies: AIR – Artist In Residence, Krems, Austria (2014); Premio New York 2009/2010, Italian Academy at Columbia University, New York (2009); Premio Cairo, Palazzo della Permanente, Milan (2008); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2007) Premio Furla, Bologna – special mention (2007).