Curator: Gur Arie Drorit
14 Mar — 24 May, 2014
In his new solo exhibition, Foundational Sights, Itzik Badash presents an installation made of industrial oil drums he inscribed with original handwritten texts. The work, made of cheap, available materials conversant with the Want of Matter Israeli art movement, explores the a-canonical and excluded cultural space of the Mizrahi traditions of Jewish communities from Arab countries, with which Badash engages in his body of work. The oil drums Yemenite Jews used as percussion instruments in their mourning practices represent an ethnic musical tradition, while evoking the rundown tin constructions of the Ma’abarot, temporary housing compounds for the waves of new immigrants of the fledgling State of Israel. Badash has memories of this shantytown of provisional slums from stories of his family members living in Netanya. Some of those constructions are still planted in the local landscape as mute remnants of this long-gone era.
The defunct tin waste serves Badash as a surface for presenting his personal and provocative writing, which alternates between past and present, while incorporating poems that Badash handpicked from poet and scholar Haviva Pedaya’s poetry book Man Ink. The existential poetic drive, which Badash and Pedaya share, frequently oscillates between the earthly and the spiritual, life and death, the personal and the collective, underlain by an inquiry into the question of cultural hegemony and the study of declining formations in Israeli society, such as the poetry of lamentation.
The exhibition’s title is taken from Hayim Nahman Bialik’s story Aftergrowth, in which the primal sights, the trove of Bialik’s childhood memories, are piled up as infrastructure, or as foundation stones, teaching the adult artist how to observe the world through a child’s eye, remaining on a constant search for the world lost behind the world of sights.
As Badash continues to revisit his Mizrahi roots and peripheral hometown of Netanya, he is drawn to examine the relations between East and West, religion and secularism, exile and redemption, memory and documentation, internal and external landscapes. The use of poetry and vocal territories as part of Badash’s creative space, integrated with autobiographical elements, runs like a thread through his work, charging it with power by using a handful of signs and narrative fragments striving to congeal at the delicate seam between grace and compassion.
Itzik Badash, born in Netanya, 1977, an autodidactic artist, has presented solo exhibitions at Commes il Faut House, the Tel Aviv Artists House, the Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Cliff Gallery in Netanya, as well as in group exhibitions in Düsseldorf and Paris. His exhibitions offer interpretations of foundational spiritual-social rituals and practices of the Mizrahi Jewish tradition.