Stillbirth

2019

Site specific installation, commission for “Nurse, Nurse”, Bikur Cholim Hospital, main exhibition of Manofim Jerusalem Contemporary Art Festival.

Curator: Rinat Edelstein and Lee He Shulov

 

Curator's text: 

In the work Stillbirth Sapir creates a futuristic mythological figure out of multiple skeletons which he takes apart, replicates and reconfigures into an imaginary, monstrous, and alien anatomical body. In the work, viewers are exposed to a difficult and traumatic moment—the stillbirth of a defective human creature in the form of lifeless conjoined twins.

Sapir combines two medical cases in the installation: one, a stillbirth—a birth that takes place in a hospital but which ends in the birth of a dead fetus. The other is the birth of conjoined twins—same-sex twins that developed out of a single embryo that did not undergo perfect separation during gestation, and were born sharing various body parts. In both cases, the strangeness and deviation from the norm of nature evokes feelings of anxiety and dread.

In 2008, Sapir came across the “monster from Montauk,” a story about the appearance of the corpse of an unidentified mammal or bird on the shores of the town of Montauk in the United States. The media coverage of this unidentified creature, the public panic and multiple theories surrounding it paved the way for Sapir’s interest in cryptids—animals that are not scientifically proven to exist and are not listed on the official zoological index. The lack of a catalog of these cryptids and the blurring of their gender, led Sapir to continue to examine them in the studio. At the end of a decade, he summarized his work in an artist book titled Research toward the Complete Crypto-Taxidermy Index (2018). As a direct continuation of the developmental process, in his recent works he focuses on internal content related to the human body and the family unit.

In the present age, where human intervention in natural processes is increasingly causing more harm than good to the planet, and the social and economic disparities among humans are breaking all records and leading to poverty, crime and violence to the point of the loss of compassion and empathy, the question of the future is troubling and threatening.

In his work, Sapir presents us with a moment of futuristic mythology that may be possible and not far off; a future built on a shaky, violent foundation devoid of compassion and empathy. The characters he creates, like the victims of some primeval sin, contain within themselves guilt, sorcery, a curse and evoke in us questions about the future and about who, if anyone or thing, is in charge of our destiny. The thought of losing a child is a nightmare every parent must suppress in order to be able to continue to carry out their daily routine. It is possible that the characters in this work, presented at the moment of their existential end, are not only indicative of the present and the past, but like a prophecy of rage, they portend the future to come. We are witness to a powerful scene, a terrifying moment that is at once frightening and arouses our empathy and identification with the cruel fate of the characters. Sapir exposes the repressed regions of physiological-biological phenomena that cause us to wonder about what the future has in store for us individually and for the human species in general.

Lee He Shulov