The Right

To Protest

 

At a time of differing and various ideologies - distinct from one another, mutually remote in their location on the political spectrum and moreover, mutually hostile - Israeli society is divided in its protest.

At a time of differing and various ideologies - distinct from one another, mutually remote in their location on the political spectrum and moreover, mutually hostile - Israeli society is divided in its protest; it seeks a solution for its difficulties, it is split and fractured, with profound rifts both within itself, and vis-à-vis its Palestinian neighbors.

This marks the onset of a debate occurring in this exhibition, on the affinity between ideology and artistic creativity. That creativity sets out for us the ideology, by means of the artist serving as moral compass between contradictions and opposites.
No artist can give way on the connection between his creativity and reality; nevertheless, according to Nietzsche, no artist can "tolerate reality". Creativity would not exist in the absence of reality, and the artist's work consists of building, between it and himself, a bridge that we onlookers are invited to stride across to encounter it on the other side. That is not for the purpose of getting us to accept the simple and straightforward interpretation arising from the work; rather, it leads us to deconstruct its components, to interpret their significance and decipher the hints which generally evade our eyes. This is the opportunity granted us by a work of art, to regain the sensations we have forfeited and acquire new sensations.

The right to protest is not merely a right; equally, it relates to the obligation that comes with the privilege.  It impresses upon us to inquire whether our mission is just; whether loud forcefulness is indeed necessary, or whether it plunges individual and society into a harsher, more traumatic reality.
But it does come about that protest is an obligation imposed upon us, when we stand to forfeit our liberty; for in that case, silence could bring down upon us a catastrophe of enormous cost.
When Martin Niemoeller wrote the following submissive lines, in the face of the takeover by the most terrible evil ever known to man, in the face of the frenzy that took hold of the Nazi beast, he comprehended only too well that his words were uttered belatedly.
"In Germany, the Nazis came for the communists and I didn't speak up because I was not a communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant so I didn't speak up. Then they came for meֹBy that time there was no one to speak up for anyone."
(From the poem " I did not raise my voice").
These were not words of heroic, all-embracing protest capable of drawing the masses in its wake. Neither is it a poetic text that excites and inflames our senses to fling ourselves into the campaign. It is a dry, factual report, the honest declaration of one who stood by, helpless and without resource; close enough to events and happenings to see the harsh truth, and yet doing nothing.

Painful but nevertheless understandable is the wobbly distinction between "everything" and "nothing", which Albert Camus depicted in the character of the rebel. That difference arises from the distinction between an "everything" as yet fairly blurred, and a "nothing" which proclaims the possibility of sacrificing mankind to that "everything". The rebel wants to be with that "everything", to identify entirely with that virtuous good that his mind has swiftly grasped; he wants people to acknowledge him and his personality, or to be nothing, i.e. to be utterly routed by the force dominating him. Ultimately, he will come to terms with the final defeat that is death, if he is about to forfeit for example, his liberty. "Better to die standing up than live on one's knees."

In the words of Camus, the right to protest is effected as one of the universal and humane foundation stones of freedom and liberty.

 

Raphie Etgar, Curator

Jenny Holzer, USA
Barbara Kruger, USA
Bruce Nauman, USA
Kendell Geers, Belgium / South Africa
Paul McCarthy, USA
Liu Bolin, China
Nancy Spero, USA
Susan Hiller, USA
Josephine Meckseper, Germany
Joshua Neustein, USA
Edith Dekyndt, Belgium
Bettina Pousttchi, Germany / Iran
Zheng Lu, China
Chieh-Jen Chen, Taiwan
Tsibi Geva, Israel
Menashe Kadishman, Israel
Moshe Gershuni, Israel
Ramin Haerizadeh, Iran
Yael Bartana, Israel
Stephan Kaluza, Germany
Spencer Tunic, USA
Michal Neeman, Israel
Raida Adon, Israel
Doron Solomons, Israel
Thomas Galler, Germany
Jana Gunstheimer, Germany
Claudia Rogge, Germany
David Tartakover, Israel
Manar Zuabi, Israel
Shahram Entekhabi, Iran
Natan Dvir, Israel
Amir Nave, Israel
Shilpa Gupta, India
Raphie Etgar, Israel
Atelier Populaire, France

 

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