Uri Nir | Accelerator – Solo Show | Helena Rubinstein Pavilion
Uri Nir (b. 1976) studied art in Bezalel (BFA) and UCLA (MFA). Held a solo xhibition at the Herzliya Museum (2004) and exhibited in group xhibitions at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, The Israel Museum, Martin-Gropius-Bau, and others.
The exhibition is a machine, a kinetic composition of bodies in space and timed movements. The viewer is invited to stroll within a map of powers that distribute materials in space and time, inhabit the museum building and pierce it. Like a musical piece, the exhibition seeks to be perceived in its abstract reality and offers an option to move from the familiar, overused reciprocal relations between viewer and artwork, onto introspective relations of space and time with themselves. The exhibition includes doors that produce flickering storms; a video film taken between the doors, with only traces of its occurrences left in the space; public phone booths emitting sounds from another video film: a collaboration between junkies and huge spinning eggs.
The exhibition is a machine, a kinetic composition of bodies in space and orchestrated movements. The viewer is invited to roam through a map of forces which unfold materials in space and time, occupying and puncturing the museum structure. Like a musical composition, the exhibition strives to be perceived in its abstract reality, offering a possibility of transition from the familiar hackneyed interrelations between viewer and art work to an introverted relationship of space and time with themselves. The exhibition space features traces of dissolved simultaneous occurrences in parallel spaces; evidence of a swift event that extended grand energies and died out, yet keeps pulsating. These traces are juxtaposed with two videos comprised of documentary materials of the same occurrences. A complex, stratified composition is thus generated, combining singularity with repetition and a linear sequence with simultaneity to form a polyphonic installation which disrupts, and at the same time carefully shapes, elementary orders in the space.
Screened on the wall across from the narrow opening to the exhibition is the video Accelerator. Three minutes and 51 seconds long, its duration is the time unit by which the recurrence of the various actions in Accelerator is scheduled, and from which the duration of the other film in the exhibition, Second Chance, is derived. The film was shot in the space several weeks before the opening. The filming location extends over two floors: the second level of the Museum (Helena Rubinstein Pavilion) and the basement, over which the occurrence spills. A young child (the artist’s son) is surrounded by thin trickles of sand spurting from the noses of sarcophagi suspended in a circle from the ceiling. The sand drips form a cage-like structure around the child. A hole is gaped in the floor amid the sand mounds accumulating at the foot of the imaginary bars, and the sand shot from above flows to the level below, where it piles up. The scene takes place by the light of a storm of flashes, flickering from translucent white doors installed throughout the level, slicing the dark space with glowing whiteness.
The video Second Chance documents an event that took place in the artist’s studio: homeless drug addicts, each in turn, hit keys on a harpsichord, and a giant egg spins to the resulting music. The clean sounds produced by the touch of the junkies’ gray fingers on the keyboard set the egg spinning, while the pitch stretches the egg’s shape. On occasion the spinning is surprising as it defies gravity. The elliptical form straightens up into a cone, like the core of a hovering vortex which virtually cuts itself off from the ground.
The film is projected from a screen mounted on an aggregate of public telephone booths. The telephones are cast in clay and painted; the booths are made of Plexiglas and tin, which were cut, reassembled, and compressed into a cubic structure. The telephone receivers hang/droop downward, sending forth a musical tune. The film’s soundtrack is the sound accompanying the entire show, obeying the duration of its time cycle. By compressing the telephone booth units, the physical spaces between the urban telephones are translated into the time intervals between musical notes. The soundtrack consists of a recording of the junkies’ playing the harpsichord, to which sounds were added that condense the original strikes, as well as random sound clouds echoing the doors’ lighting flashes. The unique harmony lucidly emanating from the fourteen receivers undermines the charged cliché of a dropped handset, reverberating against the dim memory of communication from the past. The occurrence belongs to the realms of the disempowered, of nomads, the homeless, and those devoid of cellular mobility; strangers speaking in foreign languages with distant homes overseas. The phone booths have become a sculptural hybrid pulsating in sound harmony which repeats itself like a never-ending mantra.
The second floor contains an installation of doors flashing like an electrical storm: ten door-like light boxes made of Plexiglas after photographs; their location in the space signifies a composition of rooms without walls. In the process of production, the doors were subordinated to gnawing to simulate wear and tear, natural damages and vandalizing, represented by the reduction of matter, namely—by absence. The doors themselves are the only items in the film physically present as objects in the exhibition. As if the vision has ended, but its beatings continue, and they flicker on in the same rhythm and the same intensity, in a cyclical frequency of 3.51 minutes.