Lunch, 02.10.2016

Vegetarian Panini, 10.22.2016

being occupied

Hanita Schwartz / February 5 - 18, 2016

NOTE: New videos will be added to the site throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Please stay tuned. 

Lunch, 02.10.2016

Being Occupied, 02.01.2016

Post-Pre-occupied // Dr. Noa Hazan

Being pre-occupied by current news items from around the world, this video art exhibition by artist Hanita Schwartz, will be an ongoing project in which new videos will be uploaded spontaneously.

The mode of art making, as an immediate reaction to contemporary events reported in the daily news, characterizes the Seattle-based Israeli artist's recent work method.

In her works, she responds ironically and critically to news items, in a way that enables the viewers to re-think and re-consider the way messages are transformed through global media.

For example, in her video, "Vegetarian Panini," the artist is sitting at the UNESCO heritage site of San Gimignano, Italy, listening to a news broadcast by CNN about the destruction of Palmyra by ISIS - another UNESCO heritage site.

While hearing the news announcer describing ISIS fighters shattering two thousand years of Palmyra history into dust, we watch the tourists’ cameras repeatedly capture San Gimignano old center behind the artist. These simultaneous acts of the obliteration we hear described in a report juxtaposed with the creation and accumulation of more and more photos we see in front of us, ironically implies a global compensation mechanism of ancient icons.

The situation of displacement -- caused by the experience of tourism and by connecting to an online news report from the other side of the world -- emerges into a single image of the Panini Eater tourist-artist as the intersection of accumulating histories and knowledge.

In this sense, the video refers to the traditional role of San Gimignano as a central junction for European pilgrims on their way east, where commodity and information were exchanged.

But as we can see in the video, neither the casual experience of the tourist, nor the tension of the politically-involved are fully executed, culminating in a strong feeling of anxiety.  

In the video, "Being Occupied" the news items are no longer just outside information. Here, affected by the news of the occupation at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, and the death of David Bowie, the artist lip syncs the announcer’s voice describing the Oregon occupation, while covering her own eyes with a bandage, adopting Bowie's performance in his last video clip “Lazarus.” As hinted by the work's name, the redundant coverage of the wildlife refuge occupation becomes a state of mind in which the artist can no longer control the flow of information that encompasses her, and becomes [pre] occupied by it.

In this state of mind, different news items with no connection between them are being poured to a new third hybrid sarcastic image that, as hinted by the fake black tears, does not hold any intention nor meaning of itself.

Thus, in the emotional economic model offered to the viewers by the artist, redundancy transforms to the absence of meaning, meaningful data to meaningless words, and real death to fake tears. All this challenges the effectiveness of today's routes of information and illuminates the responsibility of popular media in creating a desensitized public.

Dr. Noa Hazan, visual culture critic for the Minerva Center for Human Rights, Tel Aviv University, currently works and live in New York.