Ben Hagari: Potter’s Willby Keren Goldberg | 24.02.16
Ben Hagari’s distinctive figure can be seen in most of his films and video installations. The Israeli artist, living in Brooklyn, usually transforms himself into various human mechanisms – such as a pendulum or cuckoo clock, an image coming out of a printer, a pedestal for a washing machine or a human temperature scale. These are situated in absurd environments, where optical illusions and unique projections methods are used to create a dissonance between two and three-dimensional spaces and between background or backstage and facade. Hagari creates complex systems of representation, where the human figure is distilled through constructed failures of technology.
One of his most famous works, ‘Invert’ (2010), is a 35mm film, portraying a surreal world, in which complementary colors are reversed and light and shadow are swapped. An uncanny protagonist is seen teaching his mute parrot to speak, saying to him words in Hebrew, only backwards. The mesmerizing manipulation is done manually, while the film shows its ‘positive’ image. A different film, ‘Fresh’ (2014), reveals a vegetable man ¬ a living enactment of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s vegetables portraits ¬ who is subject to scientific and culinary experiments.
This time, Hagari molds the human figure in clay. Called ‘Potter’s Will’, his current show will include a revolving stage, carrying a set mimicking a traditional clay workshop, along side a film, featuring the hands of the famous potter Paul Chaleff molding a pot into a clay figure. In his characteristic style of inversion, the room and the camera spin, while the pottery wheel remains immobile. The show will open on 25 February at Tel Aviv Museum, and will be on view simultaneously at the Rose Art Museum in Massachusetts.
‘Ben Hagari: Potter’s Will’, The 2015 Chami Fruchter Prize for an Emerging Israeli Video Artist, Tel Aviv Museum, 25 February 2016 – 2 July 2016, Curated by Anat Danon Sivan.