Critics’ Picks

Sigalit Landau, DeadSee, 2005, still from a color video, 11 minutes 37 seconds.

Moscow

“The Calm Before the Storm”

WINZAVOD Center for Contemporary Art
4 Syromyatnicheskiy Lane, 1 Building 6
February 18 - March 28

How can one characterize “the calm before the storm” in a place where the storm is always raging? This is the question driving curator Vardit Gross’s selection of Israeli video art in this exhibition, which seeks to submerge viewers in a state of perpetual suspense. A constant, controlled raveling and unraveling underlies Sigalit Landau’s luscious DeadSee, 2005. The work centers on an image of the artist floating in the Dead Sea, tucked tightly within a coil of watermelons (some partially engorged, to a gloriously sensual effect). As the spiral unwinds, Landau is dragged along with it, clinging to a strand of melons, her body buoyed by the saline-saturated waters.

The fifteen other works on view convey processes of accumulation and saturation, which dissipate or dissolve, rather than resolve. Ultimately a celebration of life on the brink, the exhibition, which is sponsored by the Russian contemporary art foundation marka:ff, is beautifully installed within the long, dark passageways of the former wine cellar. Light from the projections reflects off the tiled walls and curved ceilings, countering the cryptlike atmosphere, while further enhancing the theatrics of works like Ori Gersht’s Pomegranate, 2006, a classical still life disrupted by the slow-motion explosion of a bullet in a pomegranate; Uri Nir’s 00 02 09, 2009, in which the artist injects a jellyfish with his own blood; and Yael Bartana’s Trembling Time, 2001, with its sudden, crippling silence.