Fearful Days: A Trilogy
23 August–30 September 2012
Oslo Kunstforening/Oslo Fine Art Society
N-0158 Oslo, Norway
Dafna Shalom’s video trilogy Fearful Days (2006–2010) exist in the interstice between religious and secular practice, tradition and modernity, spirituality and aggression. Through minimalistic visual gestures, Shalom examines a physical fragility tied to ritual, the politics of identity and learned and inherited ideas.
Scene one: A man and a woman apply camouflage colors to their faces. Scene two: bees work carefully on a honeycomb. Scene three: two men perform a ritual war dance in a wheat field with low stone walls spread out over the field. The scenes are accompanied by traditional psalms sung during the annual ceremonies of the Days of Awe. The songs, here taken out of their religious context, offer an alternative narrative. They are Middle Eastern and go back to the Jewish tradition of the Levant or the Maghreb.
The exhibition at Oslo Kunstforening/Oslo Fine Art Society with Dafna Shalom includes the trilogy Fearful Days and a photographic series depicting details of the human body covered in paint. While the photographs resemble abstract paintings, the combat suits used in the ritual war dance look more like landscapes and the human bodies take on the shape of animals. Nothing is what it looks like.
The first video was made in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War, known in Lebanon as the July War. A prayer, structured as a call and reply, accompanies the act of painting, giving the martial act a different tone. In the second video a similar prayer in Hebrew Moroccan style accompanies the geometric environment with the bees’ precise movements. The field in the third video is located in the southern part of Israel close to the Gaza border. The British constructed the sixty systematically placed walls for battle during WWI.
In the trilogy Shalom uses camouflage colors, uniforms and martial arts choreography. Military camouflage developed during the 19th century due to the increasing range and accuracy of firearms. During WWI camouflage techniques developed even more, often with artists behind the pattern designs. Today the military operate with four different patterns; desert, jungle, snow and woodlands. Dafna Shalom worked with original camouflage color pallets, ghillie combat suits, and head masks designed by the artist.
The trilogy was shown at the Petach Tikva Museum in Israel in 2011. A catalogue, with essays by Drorit Gur-Arie and Simon Njami, co-produced by the Petach Tikva Museum and Oslo Kunstforening/Oslo Fine Art Society will be available during the exhibition.
Dafna Shalom studied at the International Center for Photography in New York, and graduated from Hunter College with a degree in fine arts. In 1997 She assisted on various contemporary art projects for the Public Art Fund and the multimedia artist Oliver Herring. She exhibited her work at The Minnesota Center for Photography, USA; Haifa Museum, Israel; Petach Tikva Museum, Israel; Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, Peekskill, USA; Camera Obscura, Tel Aviv; The Jewish museum, New York; CCCB Barcelona; Tallinn Art Hall, Estonia; 50 Gallery, Dusseldorf; the Suzanne Dellal Performing Art Center, Tel Aviv and more.
Fearful Days: A Trilogy was curated by Marianne Hultman, Director, Oslo Kunstforening/Oslo Fine Art Society.
The exhibition was made possible through the kind support of the Foundation Fritt Ord, Stiftelsen Morgenstjernen and Norske Kunstforeninger in Norway.