Born in Haifa in 1975, Ratman established himself as one of the leading international video artists with “The Workshop”, his acclaimed 5-channel video installation shown at the Israeli national pavilion in the 2013 Venice Biennale. His exhibition in TRAFO Center for Contemporary Art is comprised of four large video installations spanning six years of creation, “588 Project” (2009), “Multipillory” (2010) and two new ones – “Five Bands from Romania” (2015) and “Swarm” (2015).
More than an exhibition of four separate and self-contained works, the scale and simultaneity of the works installed over 4 floors of TRAFO creates a single installation reflecting physical and topographical layers within the exhibition. As a whole, the show addresses issues of contemporaneity and the human condition in front of changing political and technological realities.
For “Five Bands from Romania” (2011-2015), Ratman invited Heavy Metal bands to bury their amplifiers in the ground in an empty field and play a single piece of music together. In this project Ratman’s explores the culture of Heavy Metal and its role in reflecting the political changes in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the 90’s. The work is experienced by the viewer in two different dimensions: a fairly silent open space, and a full descriptive sound inside a sound-room whose sculptural presence dominates the floor. “Five Bands” creates a unique feedback system that addresses issues of compression, identity and territory as well as notions of community forming.
Similar issues in the relation of nature and human connectivity are present also in the two-channel installation, “588 Project” (2009) where unrecognizable figures seem to emerge from under a pool of mud. The work was based on a long research Ratman did on yet another subculture – that of “mud submersion fetishism”. These unidentified heads are not struggling to surface, but rather seem to float in an existential pool.
While the fetish of submission feeds off of the participant’s free will, the submission of free is the subject of the 2010 work “Multipillory”, another work populated by dissected heads. Based on a classical medieval torture instrument, the mechanism consists of a complex pillory and a video that combines cruelty and humiliation with the humour of absurdity. Trapped in difficult body positions, the heads of the participants project through the pillory structure which acts as both an object and video projection at the same time. Their body tension predicts the expectation of the end of the film, which, however, is never reached due to the never-ending loop of the video. The punishment inflicted on the participants is that they are doomed to remain a collective image in the world, rather than individuals.
The exhibition in TRAFO also premieres Ratman’s most recent work, the multi-channel video installation “Swarm” (2015). A pack of micro- drones circulate inside a deserted structure, moving from one room to another. The drones fly with no purpose, yet seem to operate with a clear finality. The structure, made out of white Styrofoam, is a cross between a model and an actual space. Its soundless environment is controlled by the nonstop buzz of the electric drones, but as the structure containing them begins to fall apart, the drone operators appear in glimpses, revealing the system and the scale of the work. Adapted specially for TRAFO’s basement, “Swarm” explores ideas of swarm behavior, Individuality and control and will recreate the experience of the videos as a trompe l’oeil – hinting at a fragmented spatiality in which the drones operate.
Ratman’s installations are artworks, which cannot be viewed but must be somehow entered; “environments” whose subjects become relative to the observer by means of exposure with the whole body. Acclaimed for precisely this narrative and visual complexity in his work “The Workshop” at the Venice Biennale in 2013, Ratman’s exhibition in TRAFO is his first large scale institutional solo exhibition in Europe. The inter-disciplinary working methods of the artist correspond with the spatial and conceptual profile of TRAFO and raises questions about the transformation and identity of the human condition in our time. The exhibition is curated by Sergio Edelsztein, Director and Chief Curator of the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv.
GILAD RATMAN was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1975, and studied at the Bezalel Academy for Art and Design (BFA), Jerusalem, and Columbia University (MFA), New York. Solo exhibitions have included the Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2015) MACBA – Museum of Contemporary Art, Buenos Aires, Argentina (2014); Israeli Pavilion Venice Biennale, Venice (2013); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2011); Ferenbalm-Gurb Station, Karlsruhe (2011); Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv (2010); and the Haifa Museum of Art (2009). roup exhibitions have included Bass Museum of Art, Miami (2012); Herzliya Contemporary Art Biennial, Herzliya (2011); Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (2011); The Garage Center of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2010); Rencontres d’Arles, Arles, (2010); MoMA PS1, New York (2010); and the Dallas Contemporary Art Center (2010); Ratman has been awarded the Anslem Kiefer Prize by the Wolf Foundation (2011); Art Matters Grant (2010); Jerome Foundation (2010); The Ministry of Culture “Young Artist” Prize (2007) and the Givon Prize of Tel Aviv Museum (2005).
SERGIO EDELSZTEIN was born in 1956 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He studied at the University of Tel Aviv from 1976-1985, founded and directed Artifact Gallery in Tel Aviv from 1987-1995, and established the Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) in Tel Aviv where he remains today as director and chief curator. He was curator of the Israeli national pavilion at the 24th São Paulo Biennial (1998), the 51st (2005) and the 55th (2013) Venice Biennial.
PARTNERS AND PROGRAM:
The vernissage took place on Saturday, June 13, 2015 and was accompanied by Artist Talk with Gilad Ratman and Sergio Edelsztein the following day. At the conclusion of the exhibition an extensive catalogue with contributions from Liam Gillick and Sergio Edelsztein, among others, will be presented to the public.
Shown in the main hall of TRAFO, the sound and video installation Five Bands from Romania (2011-2015), was accompanied by several concerts in public spaces. At the invitation of TRAFO and “Aaaaaarrghh”, the organizer of the annual Szczecin Heavy Metal Festival, two of the Romanian death metal bands were also participating.
The exhibition is held under the patronage of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and the Embassy of Israel in Poland. Other partners of the exhibition are the Romanian Cultural Institute in Poland, the Academy of Arts in Szczecin, EIDOTECH and Baltic Contemporary.