The Israeli conceptual artist Oded Hirsch lives on the periphery- both philosophically and geographically.
Cast against stunningly formidable landscapes, a group of workers perform strenuous tasks across sea and land with anti-climatic results. Steered by unnerving determination, their efforts speak to the powers that drive collective faith, whatever the form.
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A young man (the artist’s brother) pushes an elderly disabled man (the artist’s father) in a wheel chair through a muddy landscape. It is a long and exhausting trip to an unknown destination only discovered at the end. After an arduous struggle the two arrive at the edge of a grey lake where a 10-meter high guard tower stands. The young man ties the wheel chair to a rope and hoists the old man up on the tower platform with the help of eight men, all dressed in yellow plastic raincoats.
“Contingency Plan”, Oded Hirsch’s new exhibition at the Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod, marks a turnabout in the work of this young artist whose earlier already gained recognition in Israel and abroad. While the familiar setting for his films (50 Blue, Tochka, Nothing New, The Tractor) was the open landscape of the Jordan Valley, the dramatic nature of the Syrian-African Rift, the setting for his present work is the bounded interior space of a museum – not nature, but a neutral, minimalistic, introverted structure serves as a stage for a performance this time. While the group action in his previous works served as material for his films and left no traces in the landscape, the group performance at Ein Harod is not only filmed in the museum but also “settles” there. In only a few weeks of night-time activity Hirsch has built an extensive environmental sculpture, which can already be seen from the museum entrance. As in his previous works, the material that becomes engraved in memory is heavy earth; here it is used to build quasi-archaic tunnels that conduct a dialogue with Earth Art works from the ’70s, but from a different point of view. They capture the floating and illuminated space of the museum and disorient the viewer – what is above and what is below? – to the point that it seems as though the space is underground. Oded Hirsch’s films, we may remember, were characterized by a narrative of doing something for an enigmatic or absurd purpose, a group mobilization as in a dream that dissolves any causal logic between action and goal. In contrast to this, his present work is stripped of narrative, and positions objects in the space. “Contingency Plan” sets up a logic of spatial expansion that seeps into the museum space as though from a different world. It juxtaposes two forms of spatial organization, the architectural grid logic of the Mishkan Museum of Art as a modernist abstraction versus a blind excavation that lacks any predetermined logic. Intuition is what directs bypasses of obstacles; the unexpected is here, as a kind of mutation. Using the method of group performance, Oded Hirsch has created a work that enlivens task-oriented mobilization anew, and exposes complex life situations, political, social and psychological realities. This work relates with a fresh gaze to layers of art from the past, and infuses the nerves of the present time into its distinctive utterance which always also includes allegorical, poetic and biographical dimensions.
Oded Hirsch was born in Afikim in 1976. He completed his MFA at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. For his BFA he studied Photography at the WIZO Academic Center in Haifa. Already during his MFA studies he gained recognition as an artist and exhibited at the MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) (2011), the Art Biennial in Liverpool (2012), the Jewish Museum in San Francisco (2013) and more. Since 2014 he lectures at the Art Institute in Oranim and the WIZO Academic Center in Haifa, and directs the Photography Club at the Tel-Hai Photography Museum.
"The Moving Image Art Fair was again in the amazing Waterfront New York Tunnel and looked quite exciting and ambitious... Patty Chang, Nam June Paik and the very popular Oded Hirsch were there to strengthen the presentation..."(Berlin Artlink)
As part of Artists Film International, Whitechapel Gallery will present a showcase of films from around the world. Until January 2015.
"50 Blue" has been recently acquired by the Israel Musem.
It is on display until August 20th 2013. All the details here
The Art Video | New Media Lounge, located in the CONTEXT Art Miami Pavilion, will present a hand-picked selection of video art sourced from museums, private collections and art institutions around the globe, specially curated by Julia Draganovic, and Claudia Loffelholz, founders of LaRete Art Projects.
A public realm commission, The Lift, appears as an elevator bursting through the pristine and seductive shopping district of Liverpool One.
......I was stunned by how many people worked remarkably hard so that such a simple thing might be given to one person. Hirsch evokes our eternal need to build towers of Babel to touch the gods.
In the mesmerizing video art of Oded Hirsch, who is now having his first solo exhibition in New York, the communal labors of the kibbutz become haunting performances.....
Produced by Artis and Bluebeard productions
September 1-30, 2012, WFC Winter Garden, NYC
CultureStream presents a video fresco which alludes to Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. “Telegrams on the Table” includes contributions by several of Fellini’s close friends, namely Fabio Mauri and Pier Paolo Pasolini as well as contemporary artists, filmmakers, philosophers, and composers.
Curated by Cheryl Kaplan
........In each of these impeccably produced documentary-style videos, Hirsch stages seemingly pointless physical ordeals sharing some of the kooky compulsion depicted in Werner Herzog’s film, Fitzcarraldo. Hirsch doesn’t gather a cast to pull a steamship over a mud-slick mountain, but the dream behind that effort—to bring opera to the Amazon—is not unlike Hirsch’s desire to unite people for the purpose of making art; both put art under scrutiny while locating it outside traditional comfort zones.......
In four short, beguiling films - all shot in Israel and all without dialogue - Oded Hirsch offers poignant visions, grand and small, of spiritual fulfillment.....
The show includes four recent video works and large scale photographs. In this show the most recent ambitious video work, 'Nothing New', which was produced as part of Six Points Fellowship, is premiered.
December 2011 issue select Tochka as the highlight of 'The Workers' show at MASS MoCA
Selected as 2011 New York film grant recipient for the production of 'Nothing New'
'The Workers' curated by Susan Cross and Carla Herrera Prats
The work TOCHKA will be featured in the show
On view untill April 2012
Selected as a Six Points Fellow for 2011-2012