Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland presented a solo exhibition by artist Nevet Yitzhak on September 17, 2015 through January 10, 2016. Curated by Rose Bouthillier, Nevet Yitzhak: OFF THE RULING CLASS displayed multi-media installations that were meant to absorb viewers in the construction of new narratives. Yizhak drew on found imagery and reconstructed archival materials, often looking closely at artifacts such as ceremonial items, musical instruments, and rugs, which become morphing, animated elements. Yizhak’s works challenge perceptions of the past and raise questions about history, conflict, and collective memory.
This exhibition were Yitzhak’s first solo museum presentation in the United States, and MOCA Cleveland has commissioned her to create a new video installation. Yitzhak traveled to Cleveland in 2015 to explore the city and view objects held in local collections. She was struck by the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Rodin statue, The Thinker (c. 1880), which was bombed in 1970. While questions still remain about who executed this destructive act, many attribute it to the Weather Underground, a radical left-wing organization. After the bombing, CMA Director Sherman Lee reinstalled the damaged sculpture with its mangled lower half, as it bore witness to a period of political unrest during the Vietnam War.
For her project, Yitzhak documented the annual conservation of The Thinker, looking closely at the ritualistic care of the object as it is tended to by human hands. Combining this with archival imagery and digital animation, she presents an abstract and surreal picture of reality, connecting back to the trauma of the explosion and Rodin’s original subject for the statue: Dante, author of the Divine Comedy (c. 1320), contemplating damnation and morality. Through The Thinker, Yitzhak explores vandalism and terrorism directed at art and the power of icons in secular culture—issues that are extremely relevant in light of the escalated destruction of ancient artifacts and monuments in the Middle East.
Artis has provided support for this exhibition through the Exhibition Grants Program.