Staring Back at the Sun: Program Overview

EARLY EXPERIMENTS IN FILM AND VIDEO: PART I
1970-1980

Curated by ILANA TENENBAUM
Total running time: 64 minutes

The first section of Staring Back at the Sun focuses on experimental film and video made in the 1970s, when artists were beginning to explore the formal aspects of the moving image. Some of these artists worked primarily in other mediums, particularly painting, and their videos can be seen as extensions of these material investigations. Other artists were interested in the nature of the moving image, from its production to its reception, with several works featuring television screens. These works are also informed by seismic shifts in Israeli society at the time, particularly the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and the 1977 elections.

 

AN ART FORM COMING INTO ITS OWN: PART II
1980-1997

Curated by ILANA TENENBAUM
Total running time: 30 minutes

The second part of Staring Back at the Sun showcases how developments in digital image processing and post-production tools impacted what little experimental video was being made in the 1980s and early 1990s. In Israel, the media and the communications sector as a whole developed and expanded rapidly. Visual culture became more collage-like as seen in these works, yet art at the time focused primarily on drawing and painting. The few artists working with video posed questions about digital production within the expanded technological possibilities of the medium, often literally expressed through the depiction of the video camera and the television monitor, symbols of its production and reception processes.

 

THE RISE OF THE MEDIUM: PART III
1997-2005

Curated by SERGIO EDELSZTEIN
Total running time: 62 minutes

By the end of the 1990s and early 2000s, a group of young artists, including Guy Ben-Ner, Doron Solomons, Boaz Arad, Yael Bartana, Sigalit Landau, Roee Rosen, and many others had established video as the dominant medium in Israel. These artists came of age when visual culture in Israel changed radically. The economy was liberalized in the mid 1980s and brought with it a slew of consumer goods, enabled more accessible travel abroad, and expanded Israeli television from one, state-run black and white channel to hundreds of international channels, from CNN to MTV, and a new Israeli commercial TV channel that was the first to broadcast advertisements. The economic expansion that took place in the late 1980s and 1990s coincided with the first Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, followed by the Oslo Peace Process that came to an end with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and further political precariousness. From early on, most of the leading artists of this generation engaged with the day-to-day political realities of living in the Middle East as the basis of their practice. When the second Intifada broke out in 2000, they were well positioned formally and conceptually to react to a period of radical social unrest. This third section illuminates the maturation of video as a medium in Israel, and the almost immediate requirement that it reckon with a violent, tumultuous reality being played out in the Middle East and on televisions around the world.

 

STATE OF AMNESIA: RECENT VIDEO FROM ISRAEL: PART IV
2005-2012

Curated by YAEL BARTANA and AVI FELDMAN
Total running time: 61 minutes

Radical innovation in video art in Israel over the last decade has made it the most significant creative period in the country’s artistic history. While most nations can cite painting as the origin point and standard-bearer for their artistic traditions, Israel could say the same for the moving image. The final section of this program highlights works made about the political and social reality in Israel today and how artists grapple with the seeming status quo of a nation in perpetual conflict.