VOX — Centre de l’image contemporaine

Yael Bartana

Yael Bartana was born in 1970 in Kfar Yehezkel, Israel. She lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Bartana’s video work is rooted in specific times and places: the Gilad Heights, site of a forced evacuation in 2002 and subsequently a stomping ground for a group of teenagers (Wild Seeds, 2005); the minute of silence of Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day for Israel’s Fallen Soldiers), which, for a brief moment, brings traffic to a halt (Trembling Time, 2001); a reconstruction site (Summer Camp, 2007); a truck race among sand dunes (Kings of the Hill, 2003). These slices of ordinary life nonetheless bear the weight of political significance. Bartana’s early works, made in the 1990s, recorded communal rituals in which the faint outlines of Israel’s latent ideological issues can be seen taking shape. In the new millennium, her work began to focus on the nation’s founding and the complex construction of its identity, as envisioned in the archetypes of Zionist propaganda. Bartana has reappropriated this historical legacy of films, speeches, and posters, combining them with her own images (Summer Camp, 2007) or re-creating their aesthetics through mimicry (Mary Koszmary, 2007). The strategies of montage and superimposition in her films and photographs force the scenes that she has filmed live to coexist with propaganda images, which are slowly dismantled and deprived of their original political vigour. By giving us works that eschew every form of fixed interpretation, Bartana continually replays the possible narratives of Israel and its social dynamics.

Yael Bartana has participated in various exhibitions in Israel (We Never Looked Better, Museum of the Jewish People, Tel Aviv, 2008; Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, 2004) as well as in Documenta 12 (Kassel, 2007). She has also had several solo shows at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (New York, 2003, 2008).