The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
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Contemporary Art
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Still / Moving

Through April 2011, Nathan Cummings Building for Modern and Contemporary Art, Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, inaugurates the contemporary galleries of its new Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing with Still / Moving, an exhibition exploring the use of slow and meditative movement in a range of mediums, including installation, video, and photography. Featuring 26 works from the Museum’s contemporary collection, by Carlos Amorales, Olafur Eliasson, Mona Hatoum, Ori Gersht, Aernout Mik, and Bill Viola, among others, Still / Moving showcases the international breadth, depth, and growth of the Israel Museum’s contemporary holdings – more than one-third of the works on view are recent acquisitions or gifts, and half have never before been on view at the Museum. The exhibition is one of a series of collection-based projects on view in the Museum’s renewed and reinstalled galleries beginning July 26, when the Museum opens its renewed and expanded campus to the public.

“With the inauguration of our renewed campus this summer, we are showcasing the richness of our encyclopedic holdings and featuring a number of exceptional new acquisitions and gifts that have recently entered our collections,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Museum. “Since the beginning of our campus project in 2007, we have added substantially to our holdings in many collecting areas, with nearly 150 new acquisitions in modern and contemporary art alone.  We are eager to share these new additions with our public, and we consider Still / Moving a highlight among our inaugural displays.”

Each of the works in Still / Moving takes a different approach to motion as a medium for stimulating contemplation, exploring the power of slow movement to fascinate and even hypnotize and the ways in which movement can modify our perception of space and our experience of individual works of art. The exhibition, on view through April 2011, is curated by Suzanne Landau, Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of Fine Arts and Landeau Family Curator of Contemporary Art.

“Many artists have attempted to depict motion and to show movement over time – from Italian Futurist interpretations of a speeding automobile, through video artists’ transformation of the static image into a digital projection. Still / Moving explores how contemporary artists have approached the meditative aspect of slow movement and incorporated it into the experience of their works,” said Landau.

Still / Moving was inspired by two contemporary works in the collection that incorporate movement as a key element: Junya Ishigami’s newly acquired Table (2005) and Bill Viola’s An Instrument of Simple Sensation (1983), which has been in the Museum’s collection since 1995. Table, an ultra-thin, 9-meter-long (29.5-foot-long) steel tabletop, supported only at its two ends and adorned with a still-life of everyday objects, captivates the viewer as it undulates in slow motion. Drawing connections with the tradition of still-life painting, Ishigami’s piece is a “moving-life” that appears simultaneously to fight and cheat gravity. Viola’s An Instrument of Simple Sensation places visitors inside a metaphorical human body, centered around a monitor showing video images of an exposed and vulnerable heart whose beat reverberates throughout the exhibition space. Incorporating the experience of the observer as a component of the installation, this early Viola work features the contemplative approach to time and movement that characterizes his video art.

Other highlights of Still / Moving include:
• Peter Coffin’s Untitled (Free Jazz Mobile), 2008, composed of ten musical instruments – the same selection played in Ornette Coleman’s seminal 1960 recording Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation – hovering just centimeters above the floor. Viewers walking around and through the mobile replace the musicians, causing random movements that echo the principles of chance that are so crucial to improvisational music.

• Carlos Amorales’ Black Cloud (latent studio), 2007, a monumental installation for which the artist selected 36 types of moths and replicated them in over 15,000 life-size black paper cutouts.  The black mass composed of delicate silhouettes plays with notions of beauty, wonder, attraction, and threat, and evokes one of the world’s most spectacular natural phenomena—the yearly migration of millions of monarch butterflies between Mexico and the United States and Canada.

• Rivane Neuenschwander’s Look who is coming it’s me (alarm floor), 2005, an interactive floor-and-sound installation inspired by Japanese “nightingale floors” – security devices designed to make a chirping sound when they are traversed. As they step across the floor, visitors activate instruments beneath the floorboards, creating different sounds with every step and becoming aware of their own movements as an integral part of the work itself.

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