“Contingency Plan”, Oded Hirsch’s new exhibition at the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod, marks a turnabout in the work of this young artist whose earlier already gained recognition in Israel and abroad. While the familiar setting for his films (50 Blue, Tochka, Nothing New, The Tractor) was the open landscape of the Jordan Valley, the dramatic nature of the Syrian-African Rift, the setting for his present work is the bounded interior space of a museum – not nature, but a neutral, minimalistic, introverted structure serves as a stage for a performance this time. While the group action in his previous works served as material for his films and left no traces in the landscape, the group performance at Ein Harod is not only filmed in the museum but also “settles” there. In only a few weeks of night-time activity Hirsch has built an extensive environmental sculpture, which can already be seen from the museum entrance. As in his previous works, the material that becomes engraved in memory is heavy earth; here it is used to build quasi-archaic tunnels that conduct a dialogue with Earth Art works from the ’70s, but from a different point of view. They capture the floating and illuminated space of the museum and disorient the viewer – what is above and what is below? – to the point that it seems as though the space is underground. Oded Hirsch’s films, we may remember, were characterized by a narrative of doing something for an enigmatic or absurd purpose, a group mobilization as in a dream that dissolves any causal logic between action and goal. In contrast to this, his present work is stripped of narrative, and positions objects in the space. “Contingency Plan” sets up a logic of spatial expansion that seeps into the museum space as though from a different world. It juxtaposes two forms of spatial organization, the architectural grid logic of the Mishkan Museum of Art as a modernist abstraction versus a blind excavation that lacks any predetermined logic. Intuition is what directs bypasses of obstacles; the unexpected is here, as a kind of mutation. Using the method of group performance, Oded Hirsch has created a work that enlivens task-oriented mobilization anew, and exposes complex life situations, political, social and psychological realities. This work relates with a fresh gaze to layers of art from the past, and infuses the nerves of the present time into its distinctive utterance which always also includes allegorical, poetic and biographical dimensions.
Oded Hirsch was born in Afikim in 1976. He completed his MFA at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. For his BFA he studied Photography at the WIZO Academic Center in Haifa. Already during his MFA studies he gained recognition as an artist and exhibited at the MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) (2011), the Art Biennial in Liverpool (2012), the Jewish Museum in San Francisco (2013) and more. Since 2014 he lectures at the Art Institute in Oranim and the WIZO Academic Center in Haifa, and directs the Photography Club at the Tel-Hai Photography Museum.
Pictures from the opening event
Curator: Galia Bar Or