Who distinguishes light from dark
Ariel Reichman (1979, Johannesburg, lives in Tel Aviv since 1991) studied at the Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem and at Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK) in the class of Hito Steyerl.
His solo exhibitions include 1200 kg dirt at Petah Tikva Museum, Dear Felix, I am sorry but we are just too scared to fly at PSM Berlin, and Legal Settlement at Program Berlin. He took part in Manifesta 8, and Mediations Biennale, Poland, and exhibited at Haifa Museum of Contemporary Art, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Museum of Modern Art Moscow, and ZKM Karlsruhe, amongst others.
In 1200kg dirt, Reichman plays the role of an artist, a gardener, a “bereaved mother”. The garden which he has been tending in the last few months is a strange, beautiful and disturbing garden, containing plants and sculptures, paintings and objects. More than a garden, it is a state of mind, an attitude: a kind of parallel universe in which the Petach Tikva Museum’s Collection Gallery has become a mausoleum, where plants breathe life into the sculptures. Reichman’s exhibition engages with the existential paradox that underlay the erection of Petach Tikva’s Bet Yad LeBanim (a building in memory of the fallen soldiers) right next to Independence Park – the struggle between the culture of commemoration and nature, which always tries to grow wild. His work addresses the national aspect of the museum’s collection and examines bereavement, pain and loss alongside the myth of heroism.
‘Dear Felix, I am sorry but we are just too scared to fly’ makes reference to the photographic works Untitled (Vultures) by the Cuban-American artist Felix Gonzales Torres, whose work is characterised by the motive of emptiness and the act of disappearing. Gonzales Torres’ photographs show skies kept in grey tones, on which scattered silhouettes of flying birds are subtly revealed. This oft-recurring motive of the bird is generally interpreted as a symbol of hope and a metaphor for freedom in Gonzales Torres’ work - the possibility to overcome borders, be it physical, mental or social ones (material or immaterial). The dark monochromatic colouration of the work and the motive of the vulture, however, allow us to question this purely optimistic interpretation. Reichman extends these reflections to perfomative actions. He scanned Gonzales Torres’ photographs and reproduced them in a time-consuming hand drawing. Torres’ scattered flying birds are absent in Reichman’s drawing—only a grey and empty sky remains.
A memory. A bell hangs above my parents’ bed. Every morning my mother would ring this bell and Maria would deliver “Tee for the master and coffee for the madam”.
The white painted wall with the red line looks like a minimal sculpture at the first sight, but is an article of daily use. A Kicking Wall is used as a training object in the military. Thereby shows the red line the minimal height, where one must step on to to be able to jump over the wall.
The source material for this drawing was an internet image depicting an adolescent excavating a hole in order to build an illegal hut. The depicted soil flying through the air and falling to the ground was translated into this abstract raster. The moment before the dirt touches the ground.
For a period of six weeks between April and May, Program has invited Israeli artist Ariel Reichman to take up residence in the public space of the gallery in Berlin. By repurposing the gallery into a laboratory for living - a home, even - Legal Settlement explores the intentions and desires to inscribe boundary, territory and ownership on place. A performative exercise in habitation, Reichman will code the space through a number of personal and cultural rituals accumulating over time. Reichman writes: My ‘residence’ at Program has met with no resistance on any side. My settlement is a legitimate one. But what I will bring with me to Program is an Ideology - which will slowly develop into an intimate identity and personality within the space of the gallery. It is not the physical shape of a house or an ‘abandoned’ hill, but rather acts of ritual and idealistic national thought that are inherent to the settlement.