Thursday, 14 February 2013

Sands of Time: The Work of Micha Ullma, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

taken from

Spanning four decades of creative activity, Sands of Time is a retrospective exhibition of the work of Micha Ullman, one of today’s most esteemed and internationally acclaimed Israeli artists and 2009 Israel Prize laureate. On exhibition are drawings from four decades including Wedding, a sand installation created especially for this exhibition, iron-and-sand sculptures, and documentary films screened presenting Ullman’s oeuvre and focusing on his environmental works and public space installations in Israel and abroad.
Ullman’s art avoids superfluous means of description and expression, relying instead on distillation, reduction, and abstraction. The idea that different, even contradictory views should coexist in a single work reflects the artist’s profound commitment to dialogue, which runs like a thread through his work and his life. This balancing act between conflicting forces, which stresses mutual influence rather than coercion, is the source of the power of his art.
In his works, hard meets with soft, permanent with ephemeral, lofty with earthly, life with death. “I look for good in evil,” says Ullman, “for the sky in a pit.” His characteristic material is red sand from the Sharon area north of Tel Aviv, where he lives; it represents the notions of roots and belonging, alluding to the trenches which protect us and the graves in which we bury our dead. Yet in Ullman’s works it is elusive and fluid, a nomadic element infused with a sense of doubt. Though deeply anchored in the Zionist yearning for roots, it also exposes the other side – the underbelly – of that dream.
While Ullman’s works may seem abstract at first glance, they are based on simple images drawn from everyday life: a glass, a table, a chair, a bed. “The things that are hardest to understand,” he explains, “occur in that space: my wife, my children … your home.” In his art he strives to capture reality and the flow of time directly – though not in a traditional manner, from an external point of view – and, above all, to raise questions about them.
Equinox, 2009
Concrete and glass
500 x 500 x 500 cm
Library, Bebelplatz, Berlin, 1995
Glass, concrete, and plaster, excavation
530x 706×706 cm
Library was designed as a room with a closed door facing the university from which, ironically, came many of those who burned the books. Standing on the glass top, viewers look down, as if into a dangerous abyss, to face recent history. The room’s dimensions – 706 x 706 x 530 cm – were determined by Ullman’s own height. Fourteen empty shelves line the walls of the room (the Hebrew letters whose numeric value amounts to fourteen – yod dalet – compose the word yad, meaning “memorial”). They evoke in a palpable way the void created by the burning of the 20,000 books, all of which might have fitted on Library’s vacant shelves.

Under, 2009
12 parts; iron and red sand (edition 2/2)
Alexander Ochs Galleries, Berlin and Beijing
All the objects on the edge of the Sand in Time exhibition are part of one work, entitled Under. The exhibition floor evokes the surface of a body of water, from which parts of furniture and household objects – corners of tables, backs of chairs, and drinking glasses or the interior of a house – emerge as if washed by something akin to a Tsunami. The strong sense of sinking and tragedy in this work is echoed in that which exists – though more vaguely – in Ullman’s other works. Another of Ullman’s works in sand, Wedding , is spread on the floor with almost no thickness. Among these works, the grand, sinking performance takes place.
Midnight, from the “Containers” series, 1988
Iron and red sand
240 X 232 cm, height 253 cm
Gift of Rivka Sacker and Uzi Zucker to The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv Museum of Art, in memory of Dov Gottesman
Exhibited in ‘Micha Ullman’: 1980-1988: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Sand Book 1, 2000
Iron and red sand, 26 X 25 cm, height 8 cm,
Collection of the artist

Tikkun (Repair), 1990
Iron and red sand, 580 X 640 cm, height 45 cm,
Collection of the artist
Sand Library, 1997
Iron and red sand, 354 X 226 cm, depth 30 cm,
Allianz Collection, Munich
Television, 2001
Red sand and pigment on paper,
60 X 70 cm, height 140 cm,
Collection of the artist

Camera, 2001
Iron and red sand, 16.6 X 11.6 cm,
Height 8.2 cm, upright height 112 cm,
Collection of the artist

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