Voyage – A boat to nowhere
Voyage – A boat to nowhere
Curator: Tirza Yalon Kolton
Boats and ships have a prominent presence in the mythologies of many nations and peoples. Such was, for example, the heavenly boat belonging to the Egyptian Sun God Ra, who sailed daily across the sky; and such were the boats that transported mythological peoples like the Tuatha Dé Danann (“peoples of the goddess Danu”) – the ancestors of the ancient Irish. One of these mythical vessels was Fryer the Norwegian’s magical ship, which, while it held on board an entire army, complete with its arms and horses, it could also fit into his pocket. According to Greek mythology, the ship Argo that boarded seekers of the Golden Fleece of Kolchis, possessed the gift of prophecy and guidance, balancing the spirit of spontaneity and adventurousness that characterized the warriors on board.
The early Canaanite culture believed that in the evening, the Sun Goddess Shapash would descend into the underworld, the underground dwelling of Mot the Death God, and with the rise of dawn she would resurrect and restart her journey by boat across the sky. Boats also symbolize an independent universe that harbors the seeds of renewal and survival, and is closely bound to Flood Myths in various cultures (including Noah’s Ark). The boat may also symbolize change and transition, or the crossing of a barrier. In some cases, like that of the members of the Tanka people in China, the boat is the place in which they are born, live and die, and it represents not only a home but a way of life.
The boat thus acts as a type of receptacle, simultaneously harboring a variety of subjective meanings such as travel, escape and adventure, in addition to the deeper symbolic weight of the general, mythological and religious meanings.
The image of the boat can depict many layers of significance, from the optimistic destinies perceived by the young and adventurous as drifting toward the unknown, to the pessimistic tones signifying the end of the road, on a personal level, as well as crossing of the Styx River (the river of hate) after death. The boat may be the tiny vessel that carried baby Moses to his destiny across the Nile River, a boat carrying war-mongering and adventurers warriors to battle, or it could be a Funeral boat, like those belonging to the Vikings and the ancient Egyptians, upon which the body of the deceased made its final voyage.
Every one of the works displayed in the exhibition reveals a process in which an emotional or existential condition leads to insight, thus we are exposed to journeys of recovering and processing memories. In relation to some of the works, we may experience a static mode of destruction or immobilization, a seemingly pessimistic situation, in which the mere awareness, understanding and expression of it form a point from which future journeys may depart. In other works one may get the impression of a “snapshot” that freezes the voyage There are works that raise conflicts, merging or synthesizing contradicting states and processes; these situations load the boat displayed with ambiguities that reveal emotional turmoil that rocks the boat as it moves on the tumultuous waters.
Even when the journeys described seem ridden with pain and obstacles, it is clear that all energy and resources are recruited to push forward and continue. Other works depict journeys in which dreams, wishes and desires are lyrically expressed.
A Memory of the Voyage
When I was little …
I knew how to fold paper boats and I took them for a walk in the yard, in the aluminum wash tub.
Folded newspaper boats
And immediately sinking
And what about me? I stand firm
In a rocking boat
I carefully inspect and try to understand.
And I do not know whether to believe in the boats, that disappeared in the tub,
If there was something
I would know
Not any more.
Thoughts about the exhibition evolved from a distant journey into myself.
The memory of a pain that is no longer clear or tangible.
Journeys I could have taken, or maybe did in another time and place.
The exhibition features works created in various mediums: clay, video art, installation, drawing and photography by a group of artists , whose works I choose to display over and again. This is not an official group, and members are not necessarily aware of each other’s creations, though they are acquainted with one another. They share characteristics such as style, aesthetics (which in Greek means ‘I perceive”), and similar handwriting.
The exhibition extends beyond the concept of a “boat” as an object and engages with the idea of a “journey.” The boats serve as an object on which the eye can halt, while the goal is to shift the observation from the material objects to the intangible insinuated aspects loaded in their physicality.
Ronen Siman Tov, The Branch Boat
“Into the night sails the boat of melancholy, in search of hidden worlds. The journey raises questions about man’s place in the world, the perception of reality, where man comes from, to what he is heading (sailing), and what is place? Will the boat ever reach a destination?
The mental representation of the boat is no more than a shell that encompasses within it the individual wandering in the dark in search of his destiny.
The reflections on the water duplicate the world and extend the riddle of existence in the universe, placing man in nature on the border between heaven and earth, temporality and eternity. This is the yearning of the individual, from his solitude, for sublime infinity … “
Noa Ben-Nun Melamed, Mimuzia
A paper boat (made from a post-it) and a photograph of a tree in all its natural splendor, so perfect that it looks detached from nature: “A seductive aesthetic experience.” The boat is ready to set sail; on the road, under a tree, a shady and protected spot. The work illustrates “the visual experience as an act of the imagination. Concrete reality is perceived as an internal experience, recalling a familiar feeling that feels out of place.” This work is part of a series of works that were based on childhood memories and deal with the mechanism of memory. The boats “sail between the sea and the mountain, between the actual and the imagined, between the innocent and the tempting, and between the amusing and the threatening”.
Eva Avidar, Untitled
A fragile boat, filled with rocks, hovers lightly in emptiness towards the unknown, despite its heavy load that is supposed to affix it in place. There is nothing around it, and the wondering gaze fixes on the boat, struggling to decide where it was heading beyond the here and now.
“Dreaming, yearning … your mind, your soul, your forehead, your eyes, your hands, the warmth of your body.
Reaching out into nothingness. Stones in my body. I continue.
Like Charon, forever- sealed CH
His heart cracked.
Sinful and lost souls on board his boat, screaming pleading, hurting and terrified.
he cannot take it anymore. He abandons ship.”
Leonid Gosin, Fata Morgana
Leonid Gosin’s boats have completed their missions. They are, in fact, after-fragments and still they get a place of honor on the windowsill. Buildings posing as boats are reflected on the windowpane behind them. Gusin provides momentary insight into the nature of dreams and life. “The boat’s remains are like his broken soul.”
“I’m sitting on the side
And from the side I see
People walking past me,
And I am not moving
I am not moving
The shadow beside me
Where oh where are you going
Will arise and go
But I do not know where and how
I light another cigarette
Play with the smoke
Admiring the vanishing
Slowly a minute passes
Tagging the minute that passed before
From the clock’s hand “
Jonathan Ofek, Boat
“Is that a coffin carrying the dead moving on into a new life? Or a crate for the many varieties of fish who are actually dead,
The boat is either dragged or it drags, is pulled or pulls
In the space between the work of art and the spectator, everything is possible and everything is true.
The tension between the sea and the land, the seashore is the tension between life and death – the unity of opposites.
It is easier to understand the fact that we are entrusted in the hands of fate when sailing on a boat”
Svetlana Fireman, Gazing / Boats
Svetlana creates her boats in bowls that amplify the sense of depth.
The bowl represents an autonomous and intimate space, and since the vessel is open, it allows us to peep into the story hidden inside. A body is contained within another body. The sea is the bowl that contains the boat within it, which contains the boats and their stories.
Anat Barel, Phoenix
Parts of boats, walls, free of functional constraints and architectural elements – all of these come together to form a new image. “Fragments from a broken and bruised world, that underwent traumas and disasters, a testimony of the world that might have been and is no longer; fragments that once had the capacity to contain and today contain nothing, as though belonging to a destroyed world. But perhaps it is possible to hold on to them and survive. The smoke leaves a trace in the material, making a drawing like veins in the earth, inside the body, like cracks that were created in me – within us, over the years. “
Meira Unna, The Eye of the Storm
Two ceramic vessels are the creative field for Meira Unna.
The vessel is the quiet center (the eye of the storm in a hurricane), and the storm spirals around it.
“I look to the horizon, and it is a line between water and sky. Sometimes it is stormy and buzzing with excitement, and sometimes it is sharp and clean. In any event, it stretches to the end of the world, which is a lot, and I want to hold on to something in face of this infinity”.
David Morris, Ship of Fools
David Morris often displays the grotesque side of life in his works, and in this work we encounter once again his familiar figures who set out on an endless journey.
Ship of Fools is a satirical poem written by the German writer Sebastian Brant in 1494. It is an allegory depicting mankind’s weakness, and ever since, the expression “Ship of Fools” has become a common phrase. The painter Hieronymus Bosch drew his idea of the concept in 1490_-1500. Michel Foucault also used the story as part of his book Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, in which he attested that the identities of the “Fools “vary as a function of historical processes, from lepers, to fools to the madmen whom society choses to exclude due to the threat they pose in their digression.
Nora and Naomi, from “The freight voyage”
Boats in the exhibition “Escape” were the starting point for the exhibition “The Freight Journey,” from which two works are exhibited. Images of boats reappear in Nora and Naomi’s works, and emphasizes their claim that the present is a reflection of the past. The boats do not sail, but rather symbolize the constant turmoil of life.
“We relied on research of myths of nations, near and far. The element of a chair – as the seat for the body, and the element of the boat – a place for the moving body, mobility and stability, migration and escape …”.
Shulamit Etzion, Personal
“The hands with the boat came from a very vulnerable place. The pose is quiet, personal, a position in which a circular motion exists, debating whether to submit or to save.
The boat for me is a personal territory – in all senses, not just physical. The reality of an inner space.. What the boat can mean to someone who is at sea.”
The little leather boat, stitched with pink thread, which is normally used for transportation, is now transported and protected by hands made of fragile white porcelain. If you touch it- it will break.
Ruti Barkai, Longing Sails
The sails that are supposed to be the driving force of the boat are separated from it. The detachment of the sails from the boat places them out of their functional context and defines a new role for them.
The installation, a set of sails, appears as a flotilla of boats or leaves on the water’s surface. The sails are made of porcelain, and the fragility of the material as opposed to their original function, creates an absurd dissonance.
Talia Bar, Voyage End
A journey ends. The boat may rest on the side. Dented, worn out, loved.
Thank you boat. Thank you Sea.
At the edge of choppy, churning water, it rests.
Avraham Ofek, Thanks to Jerusalem, I will tear their sea
Avraham Ofek painted this piece two months before his death. For many years the boat in his work symbolized freedom and movement, and his arrival to Israel. Despite the promise that arises from the work’s optimistic title the boat is stuck in the ground and cannot move.
Binyamina Nadler – Naor (Bini), Pendulum
“The hand holds on to the boat to protect the near reality, but also to prevent or delay the departure from the past, from childhood, from the ship of memories. Pulling the boat and the hand in opposite directions creates a power struggle. I choose to use material that is strong and durable and will last for generations to come, through which the sensation of the vulnerable and light paper is conveyed.”