Critics’ Picks

View of “If everything that exists has a place, place too will have a place.”

View of “If everything that exists has a place, place too will have a place.”


Ella Littwitz

6 Copperfield Street
September 15–October 29, 2022

Drawn to invisible markers of place and territory, Ella Littwitz meditates on man-made borders and nature’s undoing of them, with a specific focus on her native Israel and the West Bank. For “If everything that exists has a place, place too will have a place,” her second solo show at Copperfield, the Haifa-born artist has constructed her own “facts on the ground”—a diplomatic parlance that arose amid the expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank in the 1970s. Following laborious negotiations with Israeli border patrol, Littwitz retrieved flotation buoys from the Great Rift Valley, bullet-riddled barrels from a shooting range, and weathered warning signs from a minefield in the “Land of Pursuits.” On other occasions, the artist has sampled sun-dried loess soil from a buffer zone, gathered basalt stones from the Golan Heights, or picked the slender stem of a blooming sea squill.

Within the exhibition, these findings function as fetishistic tokens, by turns fossils, relics, and personal keepsakes to make visible, preserve, and document. Littwitz has intervened in some of her found objects: For instance, she has embellished the red minefield signs of Semiology of the Underground, 2022, with the delicate outlines of thale cress, a genetically engineered plant species whose leaves turn crimson when exposed to the nitrogen dioxide of land mines.

Apart from All at Sea, 2021, a paleomagnetic basalt stone diptych adorned with two key-ring compasses that point toward each other, all natural life in the exhibition has been cast in durable yet artificial bronze alloy. Meanwhile, the man-made markers are, ironically, the most fragile and worn objects on display. See This Line, 2019–20, five muddy buoys extracted from around the 1967 demarcation line with Jordan, which is subject to constant tectonic activity. At Copperfield, they dangle forlornly from the wall as a reminder of nature’s ultimate power over political borders.