Wax, Ceiba insignis fruits, plaster, cement, salt, pigments, glitter, polyurethane foam, latex, mirrors, steel, Birch plywood
135 x 590 x 120 cm
Dark Times, The Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery, Tel Aviv University.
Curator: Avi Lubin
Photos: Elad Sarig
Review at JOKOPOST.COM, Hanna Korpel (Hebrew) 29.12.14
Globs art section, Hagit Peleg Rotem, (Hebrew) 17.12.14
From the curator's text:
THE MONTAUK MONSTER
According to Arendt, history is composed of disruptions, of those individual moments that stem the flow of the everyday. “These single ,instances, deeds or events,” she adds interrupt the circular movement of” daily life in the same sense that the rectilinear bios of the mortals interrupts the circular movement of biological life. The subject matter of history is ,these interruptions – the extraordinary in other words".
One such moment of interruption was the appearance of The Montauk Monster” on July 12, 2008. According to the” testimony of three women, the body of an unidentified creature was swept ashore on one of the beaches in Montauk, Long Island, in the state of New York. The injured creature – a hairless mammal with a beak – was documented in two photographs released to the press. According to the witnesses, it rotted and disintegrated shortly after it was first apprehended. Despite doubts concerning the credibility of this story and of the photographs, this event led to a flood of media reactions, and the creature was quickly nicknamed “The Montauk onster".
The appearance of “The Montauk Monster” serves as the point of departure for several works by Tomer Sapir, two of which are included in this exhibition: The Visit (2009 / 2014) and Montauk Lighthouse No. 3 (2014) – a work on paper from a series .based on an image of a landscape with a lighthouse in Montauk Sapir states that he was interested not in the question of “What really happened there” with “The Montauk Monster,” but rather in the amount of public attention and the media commotion it ,triggered; in the fear provoked by the arrival of a threatening unidentified creature from the sea; and in the numerous theories to which it gave rise.8 One of the theories that Sapir came across was that this creature had escaped from the Animal Disease Center in Palm Island – an isolated, top-secret government facility on a small island also known as Monster Island. This facility, which once served as a military base, was transferred in 1954 to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, which was charged .with studying the diseases of animals outside the United States In 2003, the management of this facility was transferred once again, this time to the Ministry of Internal Security; it is now .being used to house a counter-biological terrorism program.
The Visit is a new version of a work presented in 2008 as part of “Industry” (Haroshet), the graduate exhibition of the :Bezalel School of Arts and Design’s MFA program (curator Sarit Shapira). This work features a disintegrated creature, a sort of cryptid* composed of four separate parts. In preparation for the current exhibition, Sapir transformed the original work by adding layers of color, material, and texture; in doing so, he created what can be described as a new work, which effaces its predecessor while preserving its basic form and chromatic scale. The existence of this earlier version as a layer within the current work, moreover, seems to be charged with special significance. For Sapir’s strategy does not ,merely involve an abolishment or cancellation of the original work but also its preservation at a higher level as an act of Hegelian sublation (Aufhebung). This move augments the tension that exists in many of Sapir’s works between the suspended presence of a secreting, live creature, and between an imaginary past presented in the form of geological layers that enhance the tension between .history, mythology, and fiction.
Sapir’s decision to install this version of the work on elevated wooden plates topped by mirrors imbues it with another important dimension. The first version of this work was set down on the floor, which was covered with stains resembling chemical secretions. As Sarit Shapira wrote in the accompanying text, “A cryptid queen invaded or was swept into one of the ,spaces in the ‘station.’ She appears at the center of the space stationary, seductive and poisonous; an alluring trap surrounded ,by an organic or chemical secretion.” In the current version Sapir has abandoned the narrative dimension of the earlier work, detaching the creature from the story of the invasion and from the arena in which it unfolded; the placement of the work on a mirrored platform, meanwhile, blurs its ontological status and raises doubts as to whether we are presented with a fictive event, an exhibit in a natural history museum, or an artwork in a gallery. The use of mirrors endows the work with additional depth, while presenting internal spaces and concealed surfaces that remain invisible to the eye. The mirrors thus not only reflect and replicate the sculpture, but also extend its presence into a subterranean world, into the realm of what lies .beneath the surface.
*Cryptids are unrecognized creatures that do not appear in official zoological indexes, due either to the lack of sufficient scientific evidence for their existence or to their status as fictional creatur.