Efratia Gitai: Correspondence
Curator: Galia Bar Or
16 April - 30 July, 2011
Munio Gitai Weinraub: Traces
Curator: Galia Bar Or
16 April - 31 May, 2011
Between Accumulation and Transmission
Two installations by Amos Gitai are on display at the Museum of Art, Ein Harod in the spring of 2011: Munio Gitai Weinraub: Traces is located in the underground space of the storerooms that are currently in advanced stages of construction; Efratia Gitai: Letters is installed in the Museum’s well-lit upper galleries.
The tension between two practices – accumulation and transmission – is integral to the Museum’s activities as an institution, and is embodied in the locations of these two display spaces – one underground and hidden from view that serves for storage, sorting and preservation; the other elevated and representational and used for exposure and display. We have here, then, a discourse both concrete and metaphoric about the dialectical relations between the archival, the law, and knowledge, on the one hand, and issues of representation and staging, on the other, with all the disparities inherent in such a discourse, which charge it with ethical and aesthetic meaning.
Traces and remnants of documents – memos, minutes, letters – serve as a point of departure for the installation on show in the Museum’s storerooms, which center around the legal proceedings conducted in Frankfurt by "the German Reich against the engraver Wilhelm Gohl, the traveler Georg Fellendorf, the architect Munio Weinraub, and the student Heinz Schwerin" in July 1933. The four accused were charged with "treason against the German people and acts of high treason". This is a test case that represents an extreme format of legal and archival logic – a fixed mold with a calculated structure that imposes norms and passes predetermined judgment.
In the course of a staging that extends across various mediums, Gitai suffuses this compilation of documents with the subjective and intimate dimension that has been suppressed in it, and in the process accords the figure of his father with an "absent-present" status, thus making it possible to go beyond the specific temporality of the particular event to the living, changing, present that is full of contradictions. The documents from Munio’s archives, like the documentary materials in Gitai’s films, refract in one another’s reflections and in fragments from earlier films, such as "In the Name of the Duce" (1994), which documents the election campaign of Alessandra Mussolini. In his installations Gitai time and again constructs a body that does not become fixated in a static structure. However meticulously planned its limbs are, it remains dynamic and open to the random, co-opting beginnings of films that focus on recently exposed sources, juxtaposing points of view that are always partial, and responding to the challenge of being constructed anew.
The installation Efratia Gitai: Letters is motivated by the texts left behind by Efratia, whose letters serve as a point of departure for dialogue with Amos Gitai’s films, and whose personality is refracted in them and is reflected in a number of actresses. The presentation of this installation at Ein Harod charges it with local and generational meaning: in 1926, when she was a student at the Herzlia Gymnasium (high school), Efratia, together with ten of her friends, founded a youth movement called HaChugim, which later evolved into the Machnot HaOlim movement whose members established kibbutzim in the Jezreel, Beit-She’an, and Jordan valleys. With their human power, Efratia’s letters, which are documents of historical and generational testimony, interconnect family, community, national and universal circles, and evoke reflections on identity, transformation and change. Displayed opposite them is the tear-stained face of Natalie Portman in the film "Free Zone" (2005), while in the background can be heard the words of Chava Alberstein’s song "Chad gadya": "I was once a sheep and a tranquil kid, / Today I’m a tiger and a devouring wolf. / I’ve already been a dove, I’ve been a deer, / Today I don’t know who I am".
Amos Gitai, Munio Gitai Weinraub: Traces and Efratia Gitai: Letters are interwoven with one another and inter-radiate one another. The subjective dimension pulsates in them directly as a non-apologetic stance, as an artery that connects the dimension of time with the vitality of creation. Generational and inter-generational worlds assemble and open along it, in ongoing discourse with collective and private sediments. The experimental thrust in Gitai’s work breaches boundaries, interrogates the seam between accumulation and transmission, deepens the interspace between defined disciplines and spreads a surface for alternative forms, or, as Jean-Michel Frodon writes in his book on Gitai’s films:
"They are not addtitive or accumulative; they do not create fullness, but rather space – space to be occupied by each of us, without it having to be assigned to us, and without us becoming either lost or oppressed in it. It is space that we wish not only for this region of suffering, but for every person on the planet."
Galia Bar Or
Translated from the Hebrew by Richard Flantz