Critics’ Picks

Alona Rodeh, Neither Day nor Night, 2013, wood, Formica, reflective fabric, lights, sound,
dimensions variable.

Tel Aviv

“Showtime”

Tel Aviv Museum of Art
27 Shaul Hamelech Boulevard
August 2 - November 23

As its title implies, “Showtime” suspends itself in a distinct moment: right before the performance begins. Not a moment of climax but one of heightened intensity, of preparation for what is yet to come. Curated by Hadass Maor, the exhibition gestures at that experience of agonizing silence that holds an equal potential for failure and success. Accordingly, three sound installations ask viewers to become active participants, thus blurring discrete borders and assumptions of spatial hierarchies.

The exhibition features three female artists: Naama Tsabar, Alona Rodeh (both of whom created site-specific projects), and Janet Cardiff. In the lower level, one encounters a dark room with Rodeh’s Neither Day nor Night, 2013. Moving lights, synchronized with an adaptation of Erik Satie’s 1888 “Gymnopédie #1,” reveal a wooden stage and a gleaming curtain, resembling an old-fashioned dance hall or a deserted theater out of a David Lynch film. The conscious amalgamation of cinematic influences leaves the room laden with expectation. The viewer will decide how the scene unravels: Will the stage be left untouched, as an autonomous work, or will it become a platform for self-display?

While Rodeh implies that visitors can take center stage and Cardiff deploys loudspeakers (via her widely exhibited installation The Forty Part Motet, 2001) that disassemble the music of Thomas Tallis, Tsabar examines the essentials of performance in Propagation (Opus 2), 2013: The artist has attached stage equipment to freestanding hovering walls spread throughout the gallery. Set on beer crates, speakers are positioned with their fronts inside the walls, resonating inward. The walls thus play a part in aligning sound, while also functioning as a sculptural object, diverging from and merging with the architecture of the space. Tsabar’s installation also hosts musicians every Thursday, charging the space with unexpected propositions of performer-space-viewer relations.

The works relate differently to sound as a visceral component of artwork—as what can de- and reconstruct an architectural space by sensual experiences. In these interactions, viewers redefine the physicality of the works, which in turn rephrase the body: of the wandering visitor, and of the gallery itself.