Silent mess

Silent Mess, exhibition text by Sandra Weil
Silent Mess, INGA Gallery, Tel Aviv 2010


“Silent Mess”: Maria Luostarinen, Ester Schneider and Zohar Kfir.
Curator: Sandra Weil

INGA Gallery 25.2-27.3

Maria Luostarinen, Ester Schneider and Zohar Kfir, three women from “different worlds”, all of them story tellers. Both Maria and Ester present works on paper but each through a different technique. Zohar’s work, the video “Sometime. Somewhere”, is based on footage taken in the 1970s in northern Quebec, during the snowy winter.

The stories told by these artists could be their “dream worlds”, both beautiful and ugly at the same time. There is no end and no beginning. No differentiation between people and animals. What seems to be the minor and unimportant starts to be the major and most important. One does not know what is fantasy and what is reality. There is a feeling of belonging which at the same time makes one feel lost…the foreign becomes home and female becomes girlish in no order at all, but in a silent mess.

None of the stories in these works are linear, thus the artists make the viewer think, inviting her/him to make up their own narrative. Northern sensibility is present in this show; Maria, from Sweden, is inspired by old folktales and Christian iconography; Ester, born in Moscow, is inspired by old Jewish folktales of Eastern Europe and by imagery such as a birch tree from a Russian forest; Zohar’s film presents the snowy winter of northern Canada. There is a feeling of a different time and place when the works of these three women meet in this one space, none of them have met before, but here they meet through their works.

We are also taken to other worlds, those of non-western cultures where the non-physical, dreams and the dead have a central role in daily life. In Mayan culture children are encouraged to remember their dreams, with the belief that important information may be revealed through them. Actual objects and events can even be presented, though at times in absurd ways. Significant dreams contain shared dream symbols through which the dreamer communicates with other individuals, alive or dead. These dialogues bring new insights to the dreamer.

In “Silent Mess”, Maria Luostarinen presents a delicate series of watercolour paintings. Sensitive works filled with characters and objects from the past and today are set together, and make up their own reality. These fairytale worlds are based upon the artist’s personal memories, such as her childhood doll with a polish national costume, animals and other characters performing different activities, all becoming part of nature. Maria describes her works: “It is randomness that decides which characters populate my paintings”.

Maria’s work is influenced by Swedish folklore including folktales and the national artist Carl Larsson (1853-1919). His famous watercolors depict idyllic Swedish everyday family life, of his time, both in and outdoors. Ellen Key, a Swedish feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics and education, and a contemporary of Carl Larsson, is another of Maria’s references.

Ester Schneider presents strong, colorful works, each work telling its own story, yet all related to the works surrounding them and to one larger narrative. In her works, Ester tests the borders between the physical and mental, the existing and the fabricated. She is curious of that which frightens her. Coming from a traditional Jewish background, she uses critical ways of asking questions in her works.

The portraits, either of people or animals, can be seen as self portraits and in them the characters are hiding behind either a curtain or a mask. From this secure place, the faces are able to both hide and observe, able to gaze onto both sides of the barrier. The viewer is constantly being watched.

Both Maria and Ester are searching for something that result in absurd meetings in their works.

Using found footage, Zohar Kfir's video creates a fractured narrative constructed from text by two different authors. By modifying the frame, the speed and color of the materials and by adding the sound - extracts of texts by Gertrude Stein (The making of Americans-1934) and Samuel Beckett (Text for Nothing#8-1958) - Zohar presents a new and different place.

She finds the fractured character of the work as symbolic for the anglophone-francophone division that exists in Quebec, which is the place where this “non-story” takes place. “Sometime. Somewhere” takes place mostly in snow covered landscapes, both with and without people, different characters, a man, a boy, groups of children and of grownups, walking, playing, close ups of faces of a baby and of an unclear character. The snow-covered trees in the forest return again and again. Fragments out of life from sometime, somewhere become something else.

Sandra Weil, curator