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reviews Sigalit landau
sigalit landau:
There is no telling where Sigalit Landau’s show at KW starts and where
it ends, no linearity in its succession of atmospheric spaces. Viewers are
the dining hall
drawn into this complex cosmos of spatial installations and sculptures
past an industrial dishwasher, in which a few beaten baskets with trays
KW inStitute for Contempor ary art, Berlin and cutlery, an old radio and a patch of grass take their mechanical
18 novemBer – 13 January turns, accompanied by the machine’s noises and a percussion-based
soundtrack by Yarden Erez. Old-fashioned posters about food safety
and the quality standards of agricultural produce adorn the surrounding
walls. An adjacent room is filled with lamps hung at or below waist level, their circular shades – made of roughly wound barbed
wire – thickly encrusted with glistening salt crystals. A video projection shows chains of watermelons bobbing on the water
above a salt-covered floor, probably a salt garden on the shores of the Dead Sea. Another room is furnished as a living room,
circa 1965, with easy chairs and a settee, a music chest, a tea trolley and a TV set. Three squares of white fabric – stiffened
by salt, and hung like paintings on the wall – are the only obviously nonhistorical elements in the space. The TV is switched
on, and the text of an interview between Avraham Burg, former speaker of the Knesset and chairman of the Jewish Agency
for Israel, and the journalist Ari Shavit scrolls continuously across the screen. Their conversation is about life and culture in
Israel, about Zionism and Jewish identity, and about the limitations of living in a beleaguered state. Next door is a kitchen,
consisting of dining table, sideboard, stove and big jars with preserved vegetables. The hotplates of the stove have been
replaced by speakers, from which the voices of four women can be heard talking about their life experiences. Around the
corner is a small key-cutting stall; and the keys this workshops produces are not exact copies, but pendants to the original,
seamlessly interlocking with their ward.
The large hall provides a very different scenario altogether. Human figures climb architectural structures and ladders
or lie on the floor; others stand on their heads in big metal buckets and tubs. They seem like anatomical models, flayed nudes
fashioned from papier mâché, with twisted newspaper cords for ribs and muscles, and painted the colour of blood. One
of the structures resembles a giant doner kebab, referencing all the kebab houses on the streets of Berlin and elsewhere;
another echoes Brancusi’s symbol of hope, the Endless Column, a ceiling-high stack of pyramidal shapes. In a corner, whole
peeled watermelons are being dehydrated on a large metal bed of salt, their consistency turning first to that of flesh and then
hardening even more.
The Dining Hall is obviously about Israel, but also about our expectations of Israel. Landau presents a convoluted series
of dichotomous approaches, with narratives about fertile land and inhospitable nature, kibbutzim and capitalism, external
violence and domestic bliss, that finally, however, turns into an apocalyptic vision of unavoidable decline. With The Dining
Hall, Landau provides a powerful scenario of metaphorical imagery, an onslaught on the senses that is most convincing where
she is not splashing around with blood and human parts. Axel Lapp
The Dining Hall, 2007
(installation view).
photo: uwe Walter.
Courtesy the artist
artreview 164
march_REVIEWS.indd 164 5/2/08 13:58:56
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