The Black List
Curator: Gispan-Greenberg Tamar
29 Jun — 26 August, 2017
Various events connected with the power and finance mechanisms of ultra-orthodox institutions as well as those of secular society have been added over the years to the “blacklist” of injustices and wrongful acts against the weaker members of society – mainly women and children, whom Andi Arnovitz highlights in her works. As in the past, in this exhibition too she turns a penetrating gaze towards these phenomena and interrogates them in a direct and uncompromising way, as if wishing to kick at the soft underbelly of the establishment as well as that of the viewer. The exhibition deals with the ways in which these institutions operate to undermine and weaken the individual’s power to control her own body, her privacy and her selfhood: the rabbinical establishment and the fertility industry.
Control and the lack thereof also find expression in Arnovitz’s method of work, which is characterized by repetition and multiplicity. She repeatedly engages with what she perceives as burning issues. This is an obsessive engagement, which does not subside, both in the content of the works and in the repetitive structure of the material and images. The abundance and the density, which also express connections between details and their larger reality, reinforce the sense of indignation, the criticism, the reservations about and the opposition to the phenomena that the works present for consideration.
The title of the central installation in the exhibition, The Blacklist (2017), refers to the Israeli rabbinate’s blacklist, which in 2016 listed 6,386 people who are prohibited from marrying (psulei ḥitun) – bastards, converts, Cohens who have divorced, and others. This list has been in existence for decades, and doubts about its legality were raised already in the 1970s, when Israel’s Attorney-General Meir Shamgar ruled that everyone on the list must be informed of the fact. The list, however, continues to exist without many of the citizens included in it being aware of the fact, and without their having the opportunity to dispute their status. Arnovitz’s installation comprises 6,360 black scrolls, each of them rolled up and tied with a thin thread (a recurrent motif in her works). They represent people, the vast majority of them women, whose fate the rabbinical establishment has determined. The dense hanging of the scrolls on the wall, like a black “color field”, adds an abstract dimension that evokes a sense of a solid wall, a barrier, an obstacle.