This first solo exhibition of Gal Weinstein in Spain incorporates and makes reference to the characteristics and preoccupations which have distinguished nearly 10 years of his brilliant career. There is certain ambivalence in his work that contrasts with the apparent political potential of its content; in addition, a special sensitivity towards the material and towards space is evident.
At first sight, superficially, the subject of this large double installation reflects the concern Weinstein feels for ecological disasters and it subtly explores the mythology related to the Zionist project/dream of the State of Israel. Like the vast majority of contemporary Israeli artists, the traditional representation of land and landscape, the contrast between “nature” and “culture”, between reality and its multiple simulations, dominates the immediate presence of the work. However, the cracked, dry earth, that is spread throughout the hall, does not have the same political-cultural impact on us as it had on the people who saw its first version in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2005) because the historical reference of Huleh Valley is not an integral part of our experience. In any case, the mural that accompanies this monumental installation, which reproduces seismographic records, transcends the subject matter and distances it from us, abstracting its immediate and local political dimension. For Weinstein, as for each and every Israeli living today, this work, in contrast, represents the unmet promise of Zionism and its utopia of collective identity.
From the beginning of Zionist settlement in Israel, Lake Huleh symbolized the triumph of humanity over nature, the subjugation of illnesses and mosquitoes. During the 1950s, immediately after the founding of the State of Israel, the lake was drained, but today attempts are being made to correct that ecological catastrophe, reversing it, by filling the lake once again. This senseless double effort, emptying and refilling, facilitates the artist’s metaphorical access to Zionist mythology and the artificiality of the project associated with it. But Weinstein’s work manifests this absurdity simultaneously with anxiety and distance, with confusion and without resolution, because In Weinstein there is an evident disjunction between the topic and the materials used.
It is true that at first sight the work of Gal Weinstein draws us into the complicated problems of nature, place, identity, nationality and ideology. But if we have the time and are willing to let it talk to us, to let it express itself in its own dimension, this work reveals another reality which may appear more obvious, but which is always missed by those who approach his work superficially, looking not for what it is but rather for what it supposedly says. Weinstein always engages in a struggle with the materials used, and it is with these materials, and through them, that the artist travels not only from the image that reaches us to the statement it makes, but also vice versa. In Weinstein’s work, the original familiar image, the image with which the work is undertaken, ends up appearing in the work throughout the accumulation, fragmentation and atomisation of the materials used, in such a way that the image that is offered to us at the end has suffered a process of transformation and de-identification. The work appears to be what it really is not. Thus, we can say that the artist approaches, through the “sensitivity of the material” that he uses, the situation we are faced with when dealing with nature, or whatever subject that the work suggests to us. Nature is no longer natural because we have transformed it forever, in the same way that we have transformed what we are to the point of not recognising ourselves. Thus, the work also gives expression to the vast fluidity in which we are immersed when we consider the identity of the image we see, of the material with which Weinstein represents it and the identity of what we are.
Gal Weinstein was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, in 1970. He began his artistic studies in theatre set design at the University of Tel Aviv and received a degree in Art from the Bezalel Academy of Jerusalem. Weinstein has had various solo shows at the Tel Aviv Museum and at the Israel Museum (Jerusalem), and numerous group exhibitions in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the United States and Spain. In 2002 Weinstein represented Israel at the 25th Sao Paolo Art Biennial, and in 2006 he won the Israeli Ministry of Science, Culture and Sports award.