There is no word like Davka in English. The closest synonyms would be deliberately or purposefully.
There is no word like Awkward in Hebrew.
I see my work as lying between Davka and awkward, in the impossible – heroic – pathetic attempt to break limits and embrace ambiguities in everyday life.
In my sculptural/performance/video work I attempt to create a sense of “Hand Held History” (a term Katayoun Vaziri and I created to be the title of a recent video summit we curated in the Queens Museum that presented works from Israel and Iran) to examine the transformation of historical and political narratives through the lens of personal accounts and perspectives.
My work deals with conflict, stress and the desire for balance and movement in everyday life through stretching the physical limits of the body in combination with unanimated materials. I create absurd and desperate situations in which the performers and I attempt to accomplish tasks while negotiating the physical presence of ourselves and our surroundings. My sculptures are made from damaged and discarded materials that I assemble and break to create fragile, evocative forms. The sculptures are made as part of a larger performative framework that focuses on process: making 365 objects, an object a day for one year, or collecting materials on journeys – like walks from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, and around the US, chasing hot air balloons.
I grew up among strong religious and political ideologies and figures. My fear, anger, respect and desperate need to respond to this environment lead me to making works in which “eye for an eye” (Ex. 21:23, 24 The Bible) would become a glass eye and an avocado turning around on a blue stick. In other words, my response is an opposition to linear punishments and harsh opinions, through an intuitive and imaginary practice of art. Serving in the Israeli army for two years, opened up another set of inquiries on mental instability, trauma and labor, that later became materials to work with in my practice. I am interested in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that might appear after being exposed to life endangering events and the emotions characteristic of this condition, including intense fear, helplessness and horror. I am mostly interested in the physical symptoms associated with PTSD, and the related disabilities. In Yvonne Rainer’s words in her statement for “The mind is a muscle,” talking about the ease of turning off the TV after seeing the Vietnam war: “My body remains the enduring reality”.
I use the system of Jewish religious rituals and transform them into a set of made-up rules, such as walking from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in the opposite direction of a pilgrimage – a “kinetic ritual” I performed once a month for two and a half years. I documented the process of decomposition of the road kills along the way, collected materials from the side of the road – mostly remains from car accidents, and created a series of miniature sculptures using these materials based on the images of the decaying animals. Another product of the journey is “The Standing Prayer” video: I performed the movements of this blessing, traditionally recited three times a day in Jewish practice, while hanging up side down from poles along the road between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Taking traditional rituals and movements along with post modern dance ideas and gestures, I construct hybrid pieces that reflect on human aspiration and the struggle to survive. I am interested in the way in which post modern dance incorporates everyday pedestrian movement, task oriented action, and repetition: Trisha Brown’s challenge of gravity and Yvonne Rainer’s demanding yet bold compositions.
My work starts with a story or text that structures the process of its becoming. For my last
piece “One Thing Leads To Another” I abstracted vignettes The Odyssey to invoke themes of labor, gifting and movement. The piece resulted from a journey around the US chasing hot air balloons, that I concluded in a durational performance including eight dancers and performers inside an over turned hot air balloon for Performa 11.
In 2010 I began traveling around the US cataloguing hot air balloons and befriended “Home-Builders” or ballooning enthusiasts, who introduced me to this form of air travel. One of my new acquaintances gave me a retired hot air balloon as a gift, and I used it as the physical and figurative anchor for this multi-media performance installation. The fragmented narrative evolved into an animate sculpture, featuring video projection, live music, and choreography.
In my piece “Empty is Also”, Emily Coates and I collaborated on a dance/sculpture performance. Thinking about a formal conflict we attempted to invert the usual conception of dance and sculpture in relation to the ephemeral. Coates performed excerpts from Rainer’s “Trio A” on the installation I built, broke down the sculptures and put it together with my help repeatedly during the three hours performance, commissioned by Performa 09.
I see collaboration both as a method of work and as a reason to create. In the collaborative process that touches upon charged subjects, I find that the search for solutions for technical problems, ways of presentation, and the need to compromise - provides me with a deeper understanding of personal, historical, cultural and political narratives of the creative process.