Critics’ Picks

View of “Nevet Yitzhak: Orient Express,” 2014.

View of “Nevet Yitzhak: Orient Express,” 2014.


Nevet Yitzhak

L.A. Mayer | The Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem
2, Hapalmach Street
December 3, 2013–August 30, 2014

For this exhibition, artist Nevet Yitzhak was invited to browse the collections of the Museum of Islamic Art. Yitzhak selected a number of objects, including some associated with liturgical practices and others with more everyday functions. Among them were a piece of cloth, a sword, and an illustrated manuscript. Photographic reproductions of these objects, originally used for the collection’s cataloguing system, have been reinterpreted into the video collages that are screened on the gallery walls, orchestrated to create a composition onto the space itself.

In the collages, the original colored photographs have been desaturated and enlarged to a ratio of 1:100. Each image becomes the subject of animation and three-dimensional digital models that reconstruct a possible history for that object, providing it with an imagined narrative, amassing literary sources and allusions to early cinema’s fascination with the Orient. For example, in a single projection an ornamented three-dimensional wooden chest opens and reveals itself to be an old television set broadcasting the 1950s quiz show What in the World?, hosted by Dr. Froelich Rainey of the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Every week on the show, a panel of experts would try to identify archeological objects submitted by viewers. In one moment of failure, these authorial figures cannot decide if the object they are holding is meant for writing, ritual, or as a musical instrument. Their archaic approach to the object and its analysis is rephrased through the framing of the chest as an archeological exhibit in and of itself.