Tsibi Geva, one of Israels most prominent and influential artists, presents Archeology of the Present, a new, site-specific installation for the Israeli pavilion
at the 56th International Art Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia.
Gevas most ambitious project to date extends over the exterior of the Israeli Pavilion building as well as through its interior. The pavilion is entirely enveloped with over a thousand used black tires, brought in from Israel, tightly tied to each other to create a grid which forms a protective layer of sorts.
Although Geva has been working with used tires for many years, this is the first time he has covered the exterior of such a large structure. This envelope turns the entire pavilion into a sculptural event that is visible from afar and which functions, at first sight, as an outdoor work on the grounds of the Giardini. The used tires, which are impregnated with a distinct odour, form an organized network of holes imbued with a protective potential, while simultaneously attesting to a state of danger, constituting a powerful material presence, and communicating a charged, urgent visual and political statement.
Upon entering the pavilion, the exterior installation is visible once again from the inside, together with an interior installation including paintings, sculptural elements, and found objects, abolishing hierarchical distinctions between artistic mediums and structures.
In a year when curator Okwui Enwezor proposes to focus on All the Worlds Futures, Gevas site-specific, all-encompassing installation may also be read with regard to the current state of humanity and the world. His long-term engagement with the stratified structure of identity, and Archeology of the Present in particular, offer an opportunity to explore this notion within the wider narrative of nationality as proposed by la Biennale di Venezia.
Tsibi Geva (b. 1951) has exhibited extensively in major venues in Israel, the United States, and Europe. He works in diverse media, his work often pushing beyond its physical limits into unique large-scale, site-specific installations.
Archeology of the Present gives expression to Gevas ongoing concern with elements related to the notion of home including terrazzo tiles, windows, shutters, lattices, and cement blocks; elements which exist as fragments of what once was, or could in principle constitute, a home, yet not as the vestiges of an actual, concrete house. The concept of home, which repeatedly resurfaces in Gevas work over the years, thus remains, a locus of distilled longing; an unrealized dream about a coherent, unquestioned identity.
Hadas Maor, curator of The Israeli Pavillon at the Art Biennale 2015, comments in the catalogue that The project encompasses the thematic and formal characteristics that have come to define Geva's work over time. Using the exterior as well as the interior of the pavilion, it destabilizes familiar divisions between inside and outside, the functional and the representational, high and low, abandoned, found, and modified elements. It raises self-reflexive artistic concerns and epistemological questions, as well as political and cultural questions pertaining to locality and immigration, hybrid identity, existential anxiety and existence in an age of instability.
A significant axis in Gevas work is the integration between different formal and cultural orders. Rather than underscoring the difference between the Middle-Eastern grid and the Western one, Geva produces hybrids that assimilate one pattern into another, one discursive order into the other. His multi-layered oeuvre contains numerous layers of significance which are shaped by processes of figuration and abstraction, revelation and concealment. The question of painting in particular, and of the art object in general, is present in his work alongside political and cultural questions, which simultaneously camouflage and enhance one another. Employing strategies of disruption and displacement, repetition and accumulation, Geva generates liminal, hybrid works that open up onto new discursive channels.
Gevas work is based on different types of obstructions, which always contain gaps and holes through which the gaze can penetrate, but the body cannot pass. The layout of the project within the pavilion creates sharp transitions between experiences of blockage, discomfort, and spatial ambiguity and between intimate, poetic moments, so that fragility and crudeness, lyricism and violence, are inextricably intertwined.
Tsibi Geva is one of Israels most prominent and influential artists. Born in 1951 on Kibbutz Ein Shemer, Israel, he lives and works in Tel Aviv. Since 1979 he has exhibited solo shows in numerous venues around the world, including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The American University Museum, Washington, DC; MACRO Testaccio Museum, Rome (traveling to Mönchenhaus Museum of Modern Art in Goslar, Germany, in July 2015). He has also had solo shows in Israels leading museums, including the Haifa Museum of Art; the Ashdod Art Museum, Monart Center; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; and a retrospective at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. From 1990 to 2006 Geva was represented by Anina Nosei Gallery in New York, where his work was featured in numerous solo exhibitions. He has participated in group exhibitions in major museums and galleries worldwide, including the Kunsthaus Zürich; Orangerie Herrenhausen, Hannover; Whitebox, New York; Palazzo Reale, Milan; Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; El Espacio Aglutinador, Havana, Cuba; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Museum on the Seam, Jerusalem; and CCA Andratx, Mallorca. He is a professor at the University of Haifa and at Hamidrasha School of Art, Beit Berl College. He is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Sandberg Prize from the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Pundick Prize from the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israeli Ministry of Culture.