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The Way We Survive / at Petach Tikva museum

Artists: Tamir Erlich. Vardi Bobrow. Aya Ben Ron. Jasmin Vardi .Irit Hemmo. Karam Natour. Anri Sala. Avi Sabag. Sharon Paz. Israel Kabala. Alit Kreiz. Assaf Rahat

Ren? Descartes argued: ״I think, therefore I am,״ namely mind precedes matter. Nevertheless, it is the corporeal body that is most often perceived as the essence of existence, and survival is the continuation of existence, expressing the eternal desire underlying everything, to preserve its ״being,״ as a manifestation of its oneness. While survival introduces an unequivocal antithesis: ״to be or not to be,״ modes of survival split into multiple channels: trivial and heroic, ironic and critical, realistic and imaginary.
Why contemplate survival? Due to the urgency to reflect on the bond between art and life. The exhibition offers a metaphorical multifaceted mirror spanning situations, actions, and representations of survival: as a formative consciousness and an instinctive action; as a temporary state and an ongoing process; as a response to external occurrences and an internal mental-psychological mindset; as a biological-Darwinist struggle for the survival of the fittest, and as a philosophical reflection about what motivates us to survive, and for what.
The exhibition delves into the temporal and spatial dimensions borne by the experience of survival, with its diverse conscious and unconscious manifestations, the stories that follow, the forms and images it spawns. It examines how that experience is recorded in accumulated memories, engrained traumas, myths, dreams, and visions that blend with the so-called reality. All these give rise to the built-in tension between individual and collective existence, and the conflict between impulses of selfishness and self-preservation and values of empathy and compassion for the other.
In the works of the twelve participating artists, the experience of physical, mental, and emotional survival lies, among others, in the survival of the images and in the meaning of the work of art as an existential act: in what ways does art function as an existential apparatus? How do images of the past dwell in the present, concealing the temporal dimension and the processes of recollection, while changing not only their form but also their aesthetic and historical significance? In an era of excessive imagery, perhaps visual representation is depleted, becoming extinct and losing its ability to convey any form of experience, whether survivalist or other?
In view of situations of great danger that require immediate response, physiological-evolutionary survival mechanisms elicit fight-or-flight (or fight-flight-freeze) responses. These mechanisms can be identified in many creatures; in humans they are often activated not only in situations of real threat, but also in those of stress and mental distress. Survival is thus explored in the exhibition not necessarily in terms of ״to be or not to be,״ but as a multiplicity of affinities between the world and the human body, between matter and spirit, and between reason and chaos. The exhibiting artists address the existential absurdity, the vitality and falsity innate to modes of artistic practice.

Curator: Irena Gordon Read more

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