Ellis Island: Jewish Museum of Belgium

30 April - 29 August 2021
  • Ellis Island, exhibition view, Jewish Museum of Belgium, 2021, curtesy of the artists and the Jewish museum of Belgium

  • Group show including Armando Andrade Tudela, Marianne Berenhaut, Heidi Bucher, Miriam Cahn, Latifa Echakhch, Sigalit Landau, Alina Szapocznikow, Naama Tsabar...

    Group show including Armando Andrade Tudela, Marianne Berenhaut, Heidi Bucher, Miriam Cahn, Latifa Echakhch, Sigalit Landau, Alina Szapocznikow, Naama Tsabar and Lawrence Weiner;

    The exhibition, curated by Eloi Boucher in collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Belgium, brings together 9 contemporary artists who deal with themes such as exile and migration, reflecting their views on the world as a place of dispersion, confinement and wandering.

    The title of the exhibition refers to the island facing Manhattan in New York. This was the main point of entry for many communities arriving on American soil between 1892 and 1924. Nearly sixteen million emigrants – mostly from Europe, but also from Middle Eastern countries – passed through it in transit and were required to undergo a series of medical and psychological examinations, and were required to change their identity.

  • Georges Perec, a writer of Polish Jewish origin, offers us a detailed description of this 'non-place' in his text called...

    Exhibition view, curtesy of the artists and Jewish Museum of Belgium, Brussels

    Georges Perec, a writer of Polish Jewish origin, offers us a detailed description of this 'non-place' in his text called Ellis Island written in 1979: a utopian place where one forgets oneself, where one's body and identity are transformed, a place where one also leaves room for dreams and the hope of a better world.
    Ellis Island is not a theme, nor is it the illustration of a rhetoric. It is not a formal adaptation of a novel, but rather a motif, a formula, a syntactic unit that has the capacity to reveal a memory and trigger the imagination through the works of twentieth and twenty-first-century artists.
    The works themselves are extremely diverse. The soft ‘garbage dolls’ made by the Belgian artist Marianne Berenhaut with discarded stockings in the 70s, stand in stark contrast to the destroyed electric guitar by Naama Tsabar, which invites the viewer to participate directly in the exhibition by playing on the broken guitar to create new scores. The provocative works on paper by Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow are at once sexualized, visceral, humorous and political, while Lawrence Weiner's words painted on the wall of the museum’s yard formulate statements in a neutral language. And the ‘Hanging Clouds’ series by Latifa Echakhch allows the visitor to discover fragments of history in objects that are almost derisory, but also represent the artist's childhood reminiscences drawn from the depths of memory.

  • Armando Andrade Tudela (Lima, Peru; 1975), Disperzion #1 - #2 - #3, 2017 Armando Andrade Tudela (Lima, Peru; 1975), Disperzion #1 - #2 - #3, 2017

    Armando Andrade Tudela (Lima, Peru; 1975)

    Disperzion #1 - #2 - #3, 2017

    Armando Andrade Tudela's early work confronted the geography and economy of his native country while deploying photographic techniques associated with the conceptual art of the 1960s. Part of Armando Andrade Tudela's work focuses on places of transition between the social world and the dissociated world, between collective experiences and uprootedness, and allows him to analyse the recent history of dislocations, revolutions and institutions in a reflection on radicality, formation and the avant-garde. The series of denim canvases burned with chlorine or bleach open up large holes in the space. Floor, walls, ceiling - the space, sometimes sculptural, sometimes archaeological, sometimes marked, sometimes perforated, evokes the traumas of an extraction policy inherited from coloniality. 

    • Last Letter Remembering Felix Gonzales Torres 2019 Exhibition View Dvir Gallery Tel Aviv 10
    • Disperzion #1, 2017 denim fabric, bleach 277 x 172 cm
      Disperzion #1, 2017
      denim fabric, bleach
      277 x 172 cm
    • Disperzion #2 - #3, 2017 denim fabric, bleach 312 x 168 cm / 243 x 170 cm
      Disperzion #2 - #3, 2017
      denim fabric, bleach
      312 x 168 cm / 243 x 170 cm
  • Marianne Berenhaut (Brussels, Belgium; 1934), 'Poupées-Poubelles' (Dolls-Bins) (1971-1980)

    Marianne Berenhaut (Brussels, Belgium; 1934)

    'Poupées-Poubelles' (Dolls-Bins) (1971-1980)

    Marianne Berenhaut's installations are based on salvaged or found everyday objects. They are born from the coming together of the artist's memory, the aura of the objects she chooses to associate, the sensitivity of the viewer and our collective unconscious. Between subversive humour, enigmatic fantasy and pure poetry, the work of this Belgian artist constitutes an important testimony to the history of art and of women. Her work evokes absence, the notion of no return and vain expectation, as well as memories of a childhood marked by the Holocaust and twinship. The series of works called 'Poupées-Poubelles' (Dolls-Bins) (1971-1980) are soft dolls made from waste piled into stockings. "Fascination of the body-waste, of the body that does not fit together, of the body that is a catch-all, of the body that is folded, beaten, torn, twisted, filled with anything and anyone, fascination of the body that triumphs over everything and that is there, body-belly, headless body, head within the body. (...) I am going out through all my pores. I am crossed, invaded, dispossessed. And yet in this thin skin I gather myself, I am alive."

    • Poupées poubelles : Filet de pêche avec coquillage, 1971-1980 mixed media
      Poupées poubelles : Filet de pêche avec coquillage, 1971-1980
      mixed media
    • La Frontière, 2017 4 metal bases 110 x 110 x 75 cm
      La Frontière, 2017
      4 metal bases
      110 x 110 x 75 cm
    • Poupées poubelles : Mère et enfant, 1971-1980 mixed media 70 x 80 x 110 cm
      Poupées poubelles : Mère et enfant, 1971-1980
      mixed media
      70 x 80 x 110 cm
  • Latifa Echakhch (El Khnansa, Morocco; 1974), Latifa Echakhch, Inking (The cardboard suitcase), 2014

    Latifa Echakhch, Inking (The cardboard suitcase), 2014, suitcase, Chinese ink, wooden cloud scenery, canvas, acrylic paint and steel wire, variable dimensions, unique

    Latifa Echakhch (El Khnansa, Morocco; 1974)

    Latifa Echakhch, Inking (The cardboard suitcase), 2014

    Latifa Echakhch addresses contemporary globalised culture through elegant gestures and formal restraint that contemplate the immigrant experience and concepts of nationality. Through a relatively simple and delicate gesture, the artist manages to encapsulate the vocabularies of abstract painting, minimalist sculpture, the readymade and the site-specific installation, without ever fully adhering to any of these categories. The Hanging Clouds series of works allows the visitor to discover fragments of history, almost derisory objects, but also the artist's childhood memories drawn from the depths of a memory and dipped in black ink. Black refers both to the idea of a past and frozen time of action, as well as to a set of gestures to come. 

  • Sigalit Landau (Jerusalem, Israel; 1969)

    Sigalit Landau, ‘salt sculptures’ process documentation

    Sigalit Landau (Jerusalem, Israel; 1969)

    Sigalit Landau's work relates to personal and collective memory, archaic and utopian myths and current issues of the human condition. Using a diverse range of materials while interacting with the human body, the artist weaves the social with the intimate, the historical with the private. For over fifteen years, the Dead Sea has been a source of inspiration and a laboratory for Sigalit Landau. Almost as a ritual, she and her team immerse objects in the salt water of this unique lake. Some of the submerged objects are handmade from specific and symbolic materials (fishing nets or barbed wire), others are personal objects and represent a world that has disappeared. Through submersion in water, these sculptures are covered with salt crystals, becoming fragile creations imbued with a terrifying beauty, reminiscent of archaeological discoveries that tell of the ceaseless transformation of all things and of the darkest chapters of 20th century history.

    • Carlibaba, 2020 Handmade tapestry coated in salt crystals 52 x 67 x 8 cm
      Carlibaba, 2020
      Handmade tapestry coated in salt crystals
      52 x 67 x 8 cm
    • Malka, 2018 Shoes coated in salt crystals 12 x 28 x 12 cm
      Malka, 2018
      Shoes coated in salt crystals
      12 x 28 x 12 cm
  • Naama Tsabar, Melody of Certain Damage #6, 2018
    Melody of Certain Damage #6, 2018, broken electric guitar, strings, microphone, screws and guitar amplifier, 144.8 x 99 x 6.3 cm, unique

    Naama Tsabar (Tel Aviv, Israel; 1982)

    Melody of Certain Damage #6, 2018

    Naama Tsabar uses performance, sculpture and photography to subvert gender roles historically associated with music. By appropriating and reversing the aggressive gestures of rock and roll and their associations with masculinity and power, the artist disrupts the implicit gender roles and coded behaviour of music and nightlife. In the series of performances and sculptures entitled 'Melody of Certain Damage', Naama Tsabar focuses on the moment following the iconic destruction of an electric guitar by mapping the parts as they fall apart and reinserting the parts into a new working order. The artist invites the viewer to participate directly in the exhibition by playing on the broken guitars to create new scores and expand the scope of a work. 

  • Lawrence Weiner (New York, USA; 1942) , On the line off the line, 1997
    Lawrence Weiner, On the line off the line, 1997, language + the materials referred to, unique, exhibtion view Dvir Gallery Tel Aviv

    Lawrence Weiner (New York, USA; 1942)

    On the line off the line, 1997

    Lawrence Weiner is one of the major figures of conceptual art. All his proposals are based on the artist's statement of intent published in 1969: "1. The artist may construct the piece. 2. The piece may be fabricated (by somebody else). 3. The piece need not be built. Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist, the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership". The three possibilities of realising the work are thus declared equivalent by the artist, who affirms that the construction of the work depends intrinsically on its reception, and therefore on its context. From the 1970s onwards, his work consisted essentially of wall installations: words painted on the walls (of the exhibition space or of the city) that describe potential sculptures. Lawrence Weiner's Statements formulate statements in a neutral language that would become a remarkable stylistic feature of his work. The artist would later name his projects 'Works' to affirm their status as sculptures.