Shoreless – Installation – Anat Gateniu

By Anat Gateniu

Shoreless, a term from the mythological book Mobi Dick, is not the opposite of a shore nor is it any other defined location rather it is an interim space, a twilight zone, neither at sea nor on solid earth, neither here nor there but to a certain extent, a pause and even more so an expectation for a change of the existing state.

Bilha Aharoni lives and creates in Michmoret, which is at a walking distance from the sea. The natural forces that act on the sea and its life cycles are inseparable from Bilha’s life and art and she has always been attentive and drawn to dialogues with it. When Bilha gave up on her desire to be a sea farer she began sculpturing and from the beginning her creations included such concepts as buoyancy and balance, even when her sculptures expressed the abstract. The installation Shoreless, created specifically for the gallery’s space, is the continuance of previous installations in which the image of a lighthouse was central (Workbench in 2007 at the Cliff Gallery in Natanya and Low Tide in 2010 at the renewed old train station complex in Tel Aviv). A large lighthouse broken in two, unusable, dismantled, neutralized, with many pieces spread over the wall, yet still trying to maintain its life through an array of small lights born and duplicating from the central light source that shut down. The lights emerge from the floor in a way that resembles a periscope, enabling a perfect 360 view, or a marine creature emerging from the deep or perhaps some type of sensor organs or a human eye examining the world. But they always contain an act of signaling.

Bilha has used blinking red lights in the past as symbols of caution and danger or as indicators of internal pulses. The lighthouse, as an iconic image for “showing the way” and light as an metaphoric representation of values or spiritual elements, have served Aharoni for some time as a part of a complete system of symbols of measurement that reoccur in her sculpturing complex: rulers, markers, depth measurers, levels, compasses, pendulums, floats, weights, seesaw motion and compositions that deal with finding a fine balance contrary to the force of gravity. These images, all taken from the marine repertoire, reappear in different variations in Aharoni’s creations and are part of her metaphoric domain for debating the human balancing system or questions of conscious and measures and on setting paths in the existential perspective within the local and political context.

The human form began to show up in Aharoni’s creations in the 90’s as a male figure in a passive and relaxed stance carrying within a pulsing light, a material or bodily value, a pacemaker. In this installation the male figure, sculptured from polymeric materials, observing the array of pulsing lights on the floor is a tragic figure, blackened and charred. And in the artist’s words “a flicker burned him…he waited so long until he charred”. The installation includes two sculptures of children in a setting that suggests danger without them being aware of it, like the bone chilling sculpture of a child carved out of black rubber, marching naively and unaware of the triggered package on his back. The children’s figures enhance the feeling of being sentenced by the loss of human consciousness.

In her installations Bilha Aharoni always examines her physical position with respect to the sea and the four winds, marking the North as if relentlessly searching for the true direction. Bilha Aharoni began her journey in the 70’s’ sculpturing her unique path as an artist without belonging to any specific style. As an autodidact artist she studied for a short period at the Avni Institute and afterwards continued to explore sculpturing in the traditional method as a helper for stonecutters in Quiriat-Shaul. Later she went to Carrara in northern Italy to learn marble stonecutting and she returned to Carrara several times. From the beginning Aharoni experienced with a variety of materials and in the past several years she has been narrowing them down to wood and rubber, mostly creating installations and using a variety of materials and mixed techniques.

Anat Gateniu

Exhibition curator לאנגלית – דור פרגמנט