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Guggenheim and Tel Aviv Museum of Art announce acquisition of Yael Bartana video
Zamach (Assassination), 2011. High-definition video, with sound, 35 min. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Collections Council; coowned with Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2012© Yael Bartana.

NEW YORK, NY.- Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and Suzanne Landau, Director and Chief Curator, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, announced the joint acquisition of Yael Bartana’s And Europe Will Be Stunned (2007–11), a trilogy of videos first presented in 2011 at the 54th Venice Biennale as Poland's official entry.

“We are extremely pleased to deepen and enhance the Guggenheim Museum’s video holdings with Yael Bartana’s powerfully resonant and challenging work,” said Mr. Armstrong. “The collaboration with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art further reflects the Guggenheim’s global perspective while enabling both institutions to offer larger audiences the opportunity to engage with Bartana’s thought-provoking art.”

Suzanne Landau remarked, “We showed Yael’s trilogy at the museum last fall and felt committed to acquire it for our collection. We are very pleased that, thanks to the collaboration with the Guggenheim, we were able to achieve it. This joint acquisition further emphasizes the importance of Yael’s piece and strengthens her position in the international contemporary art scene.”

At the Guggenheim, the work was purchased with funds contributed by the Collections Council, and at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the work was purchased with the help of the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel (BFAMI).The work is co-owned with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Yael Bartana’s work explores notions of identity in the context of homeland, nationhood, and politics. Through a blurring of fiction and reality, often with reference to the rituals and symbols of Israeli society, Bartana’s films invert history in order to question collective memory and inspire imagined futures. And Europe Will Be Stunned centers on her fictive Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP), which calls for the return of 3.3 million Jewish emigrants to their Eastern European “ancestral homeland.” Reprising Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda films, Bartana drifts between the idiom of documentary, biopic, and art-house cinema in a story that folds fiction into events past and present. The sixty-minute trilogy includes Mary Koszmary (Nightmares, 2007); Mur i Wieza (Wall and Tower, 2009); and Zamach (Assassination, 2011).

The trilogy opens with Nightmares, set in the ruins of Warsaw’s Decennial Stadium, where fictional politician Sławomir Sierakowski issues a cry to the vacant fields, summoning the return of the Jewish people to Poland. In the second film, Wall and Tower, Sierakowski’s followers heed his call to action; dressed in the manner of 1930s Jewish immigrants, they erect Poland’s first tower-and-stockade style kibbutz at the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. This film borrows its title from the Polish translation of the Hebrew phrase Homa Umigdal, literally “wall and tower,” a settlement method developed by Zionists to settle land in the British Mandate of Palestine during the 1936–39 Arab Revolt. Braiding the real with the fictional, the man who plays Sierakowski is in life the editor of the journal Krytyka Polityczna (The political critique) and president of a leftist Polish movement, the Stanislaw Brzozowski Association. The trilogy’s final part, Assassination, ends with the killing of Sierakowski by an unknown assailant, a tragedy that solidifies the imagined JRMiP. Culling from symbols of the Polish and Israeli past, Bartana reconfigures their context—placing a kibbutz at the site of the Warsaw ghetto, for instance—and through such juxtapositions upends their well-trodden meanings.

Taking fraught issues of personal and national identity as her subject, Yael Bartana (b. 1970, Kfar Yehezkel, Israel) works in photography, film, video, sound, and installation and focuses on the poetics of individual political gestures. Bartana is the recipient of numerous international awards, including the Artes Mundi 4, Wales (2010), the Häagendaismo, Madrid (2010), the Principal Prize by the International Jury and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen short film festival, Germany (2010), and the Gottesdiener Foundation Israeli Art Prize (2006). Bartana’s work has been the subject of several solo presentations worldwide, including at Secession, Vienna (2012);Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2012);Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2012); Venice Biennale (2011); Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco (2009); Jewish Museum, New York (2009); P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2003 and 2008); Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv (2008); and MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Mass. (2004). Her work has been presented in numerous group exhibitions internationally, including the Berlin Biennale (2012) and those at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2008 and 2010); the Tate Modern, London (2008 and 2010); and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2009). Bartana lives and works in Amsterdam and Tel Aviv.

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