Negev Museum of Art
Be’er Sheva, although Israel’s fourth-largest city, stands relatively neglected at the edge of the Negev, in the nation’s so-called periphery. Jannis Kounellis arrived in Be’er Sheva with, in his own phrase, his hands in his pocketsthat is to say, without a project. One can well understand why Kounellis would be lured by the desert, for he was one of the leading figures of Arte Povera, once described by the critic Germano Celant as “a nomadism of action.”
Kounellis’s working materials typically vary in response to the locale he finds himself in. His concept for this exhibition is that Israel begins with the Negev. First come the desert stones, which he has placed along the museum’s interior perimeter. Next comes the rope, which, entwined around the stones, unifies the two floors of the installation. Then comes, in each room, one of Kounellis’s signature gestures: the home
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