Past Public Program
Brave New World: Recent Photographs by Assaf Evron and Oded Hirsch was an exhibition organized by Artis and sponsored by the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.
In Brave New World, Israeli artists Assaf Evron and Oded Hirsch used photography to examine the effects of post-industrialization on marginalized communities in Israel. Both artists engage with the economic realities of disparate minority groups within Israeli society; for Evron, these are the metal scrap gatherers in his native Tel Aviv and for Hirsch, the members of Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley, where the artist was born and raised. While Evron responds to the unofficial shadow economies that have emerged through the inequities of globalization, Hirsch questions the ethos of the socialist movement pioneered by the kibbutzim. Although they employ different approaches, both artists explore themes of alienation in a brave new world of declining idealism, increasing privatization and complex power relations.
Despite early aspirations for a thriving social democracy, contemporary Israel has grown economically polarized, as recent and ongoing demonstrations there testify. Hirsch’s photographs are moments captured while filming his video works in the Jordan Valley, depicting individuals laboring together to realize seemingly illogical results. Kibbutz members work to release a trapped parachuter; they hoist the artist’s wheelchair-bound father above the Sea of Galilee; and they build a footbridge in order to cross a miniscule ravine. Through these absurdist actions and poetic narratives, Hirsch questions the utopian communality of kibbutz life and examines the individual’s commitment to the ideals of collectivism.
In response to the sharp rise in iron prices in recent years, the urban landscape of Tel Aviv hosts a growing informal economy of scrap metal collectors. For his series Crystal Habit, Evron wandered throughout Tel Aviv following the daily routes of these urban gatherers. His impulse was not to document this community, but rather to “collect” a visual record of their teetering shopping carts. By digitally removing the background of each photograph, these isolated vehicles–along with their contents and shadows–become elaborate sculptural constructs. The title Crystal Habit refers to a scientific term describing the way minerals crystallize and form. For Evron, this series becomes an aesthetic examination of materiality, texture, color and composition, and serves as an entry point to examine broader social and economic dynamics.