TEL AVIV.- In his tragicomic video installations, Ben Hagari creates absurd settings which prompt questions about identity and territory. Trapped in a mechanical apparatus, the figure of the artist is reborn into modern or archaic cultural situations, often associated with a technological failure, with radicalization, or the inversion of a mechanism. Hagari's oeuvre surrenders the influence of theater and cinema. He blurs the boundaries between "on stage" and "behind the scenes," reformulating the relationship between an object and its maker, usually while inverting roles as well as physical states.
The exhibition features Hagari's new work Potter's Will (201516), comprising a video and a sculptural installation: a set with a potter's studio on a rotating platform, extracted from the film screened next to it. In the video, Hagari revisits the potter's wheel, thereby delving into ancient myths pertaining to the birth of the pot, the birth of man, creator, and creation. The world is symbolically divided into two: the modern, cultural, conscious, technological "upper world," and the empty, primeval "under world". The former world contains a rotating stage with props, presented as a source of pleasure. American potter Paul Chaleff appears on stage, breathing life into a lump of clay which transforms into a pot. The second world is revealed through the movement of a camera plunging into the depths of the whirling pot. This movement of inversion or falling explores the possibility of a return to a formative mythical moment.
The work's pun-based English title, Potter's Will, replaces the potter's "wheel" with the potter's "will," thereby setting up and at the same time confounding the unresolved dichotomy between destiny or fate, on the one hand, and individual will, namely a human being's freedom of choice, on the other. The figure seen "sleepwalking" to the burning kiln at the end of the film indicates an engagement with human fate, memory, and trauma.
The show is exhibited simultaneously at the Rose Art Museum Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts (curator: Gannit Ankori)