Assaf Shaham, group exhibition, ‘Partial Portrait: Fragmented Identities’ at The Artist’s House, Jerusalem
Curator: Smadar Sheffi
Assistant curator: Shelly Liebowitz Kalaora
The exhibition “Partial Portrait” explores the constant tension between the recognition that identities are a jigsaw puzzle of overlapping, clashing, connecting, and retreating parts, and our conviction that we know others.
The works by Michal Heiman, Aram Gershuni, Yaron Lapid, and Assaf Shaham resonate the fragmentation of identity as an extensive, broad phenomenon, and at the same time – a local one: the disintegration of the Israeli array of identities, as we have known it since the establishment of the State, infiltrates the personal field, undermining axioms.
While the majority of the featured portraits are flawed, cropped, or partially erased, we still feel as though we could identify the depicted figures. The exhibition is a conceptual sphere, and at the same time – a physical space, in which the seam between the dissolution of the portrait and the hesitant or desperate attempt to hold onto the essence, the inner nucleus of presence, is introduced.
The title, “Partial Portrait,” alludes to states of instability: to fear of the presence of others, or to the individual’s fear of being identified. Typical examples would be the reference to the face of God, or to obstructing women’s faces in various religions, or the attempt of detainees, as well as victims of crime, to cover their faces so as to preserve their anonymity.
In Lapid’s, Heiman’s, and Shaham’s fragmentary, skeptical works there is a common denominator, rooted in critical observation of modernism through a historical-anthropological-social prism. A set of common sensibilities links their works to Gershuni’s portraits, in which the gaze is also comprised of the awkwardness we feel when we accidentally catch a glimpse of another person’s private moment.