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Major Installations by Mark Dion and Micha Ullman at Israel Museum

JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, has added two new large-scale, site-specific works by contemporary artists Mark Dion and Micha Ullman to the extensive display of outdoor sculpture on view in its renowned Billy Rose Art Garden. These new commissions include:

• Equinox (2005–2009) by Ullman, a subterranean void experienced through a rectangular glazed opening, which appears modestly on the landscape like a glass-topped bench. This work explores the physical and spiritual aspects of light and shadow.

• Antiquarian Book Shop (2008) by Dion, a life-size curiosity shop filled with hundreds of books and collectibles from around the world. The house-like structure is locked and not accessible, creating a kind of still-life motif within the dynamism of the Garden’s seven-acre setting.

“These two installations by American artist Mark Dion and Israeli artist Micha Ullman embrace very different aspects of our ongoing commitment to provide our visitors with exciting experiences with contemporary art across the landscape of our 20-acre campus,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. “These commissions complement our existing display of large-scale outdoor sculpture and add to the evolving dynamism of the Billy Rose Art Garden—a favored destination for our visitors.”

The completion of Ullman’s commission for the Art Garden and the announcement of these two new works coincides with the recent announcement of Micha Ullman’s designation as a recipient of the 2009 Israel Prize – the country's most prestigious award – in recognition of his life's work and his contribution to culture in Israel through exemplary professional and personal achievement.

Micha Ullman, Equinox
Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman frequently uses earth and sand in the creation of his sculptural installations, many of which are designed to sit below ground level. When approaching Equinox in the Museum’s garden, viewers see only a rectangular bench-like structure, with a transparent glass top. Once closer, visitors peer through the bench into an empty subterranean void, approximately 5 m. (16 ft.) square. Despite its below-ground isolation, the work interacts with the viewer, who can observe his own shadow projected throughout the space below and intermingling with the reflections of the sky in the bench’s glazed opening. An unlit corridor, invisible to viewers throughout most of the year, leads into an empty room on the south side of the work’s main chamber. Twice a year, at noon during the day of the spring and fall equinox, light entering the space appears exactly in front of the darkened entrance to the corridor, creating a rectangular reflection of light that illuminates the usually darkened doorway.

Echoing James Turrell’s Space That Sees (1992), another site-specific work which is permanently sited nearby, Equinox similarly explores the physical and spiritual aspects of light, focusing on the special light of Jerusalem’s landscape. While Turrell’s work does so by observing the sky through a framed opening in an enclosed void, Ullman’s takes the opposite approach of examining how light pierces a subterranean void which cannot be experienced directly. The work was created in honor of Shoshana Cardin, on the occasion of her 80th birthday, by her children and grandchildren, and Lynn and Stacy Schusterman, USA, with additional support from Shirley and Frank Lowy, Sydney, Australia, in honor of Dov Gottesman’s 75th birthday, and the Barbara and Eugene Schwartz Contemporary Art Acquisition Endowment Fund.

Mark Dion, Antiquarian Book Shop
American artist Mark Dion is known for creating sculptures and installations that challenge commonly accepted notions of history and collective cultural and social knowledge. Dion’s new work for the Israel Museum, completed in November 2008, is an enclosed, houselike structure that functions as a large-scaled curiosity cabinet, or ‘wunderkammer.’ In Antiquarian Book Shop, Dion assembles a wide array of items from around the world, culled from various cultures and periods in time, including vintage clocks, old world maps, scrolls, and other collectibles. Books dominate the organizational system of the piece, with hundreds of titles in various languages, including multiple translations of selected literary masterworks such as Don Quixote.

Although the front door of the shop is locked, turning the entire installation into a sort of life-sized still life, it is designed to allow visitors to see all of its contents and read the titles of all of its books. Through this assemblage of miscellaneous items from around the world, Antiquarian Book Shop seeks to find connections among different peoples and across different periods in time, revealing underlying commonalities of humankind and resonating with one of the important messages of the Museum’s encyclopedic holdings. The work was purchased by the New York Contemporary Art Acquisitions Committee of the American Friends of the Israel Museum.

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