Yael Bartana, “Inferno,” 2013
Over at Art-Agenda, Kirsty Bell writes about Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s recent works, and their focus on national identity. Bell writes:
These theatrical inserts suggest a generative, symbolic dimension outside of our contemporary coordinates of time and place, and broaden the debate beyond the specificities of Finland, towards the artist’s own questions of identity, as a non-religious Israeli, now living in Europe, or indeed to those of us all: what does it mean now to be Israeli or Finnish, German or English?
Bartana often talks about “strategies of displacement” in her work, and these devices are used as such to point out an artificiality of approach that allows alternative visions to emerge. “I am trying to define, maybe, a new term for Utopia,” she says. “That conflict is very good, let’s say, conflict is Utopia.”(1) The traditional costumes or antiquated activities depicted loosen the hold of contemporary time to suggest a nostalgia for a sense of community and connection to history beyond the limitations of Western individualist societies. Bartana applies her artistic imagination to current issues as if it is a form of activism: to lodge a complaint through action.