Middle East & Africa

Yael Bartana
A Declaration

Yael Bartana’s video work A Declaration was shot in southern Tel Aviv, on the visible border between that city and Jaffa. It begins with the sound of waves and the image of the Israeli flag that fills the entire screen. This is followed by the whirring sounds of a helicopter. A young man in a white undershirt rows a boat carrying an olive tree in its place. With her camera work Bartana seems to flirt with 1930s Jewish National Fund (JNF) propaganda photography on the one hand, and with Leni Riefenstahl’s photographic technique, like the use of soft focus that distorts the perspective and vanishing point, on the other, A Declaration already attests to the action itself: on Andromeda’s Rock, Bartana replaces the Israeli flag with an olive tree. While this is indeed an act performed in a media context, it nevertheless takes place in the sphere of Israeli reality.

(exh.cat. Kunstverein in Hamburg, Hatje Cantz, 2007, p. 93)

Yael Bartana explores the imagery of cultural identity. In her photographs, films and installations she critically investigates her native country's struggle for identity. Her early work she documents collective rituals introducing alienation effects such as slow-motion and sound. In her recent work the artist stages situations and introduces fictive moments into real existing narratives. In 2011, Yael Bartana represented Poland for the 54th edition of the Venice Biennial.

Yael Bartana was born in 1970 in Kfar-Yehezkel, Israel. She is based in Tel Aviv, Berlin and Amsterdam.