Kamel Mennour

Sigalit Landau

21 Oct - 18 Dec 2010

© Sigalit Landau
View of the exhibition « Working title WM I+II »
kamel mennour, Paris, 2010
Photo. Charles Duprat
Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris
Working Title Wm I +Ii
21 October – 18 December 2010

Working title WM I+II
A new video work, 9 min.
W: Water Woman
M: Melon Man

And behind every scene there is always another scene.
The people who pick watermelons in Israel are men coming from an Arab-Israeli village called Manda, near Nazareth. Why? They say they are professionals, very much stronger... and have been the ones picking watermelons for decades (the first mention of watermelons in the area was in Egypt 5000 years ago).
My way to look at landscape with less guilt/ blindness/ barriers and also with less romanticism is looking down at the earth/ sea/ street/ feet with camera, like a face gazing down, looking at a map, at paper, at a text.I first used red fruit in a 2003 show called "The Country" as a metaphor. I showed my repetitive drained balls, as bleeding, replete headlined and numbered growths, multiplying under ground like potatoes, each ball was made of a daily newspaper and reddened glue. It was in the days of the second "Intifada", and blood was spilt like water in the streets... for months on end.
"Working Title WM" is an elegy to the monumental work "DeadSee" where the watermelons are re-located and juxtaposed in a different gravity. Dead and sterile. In "Working Title WM I+II" the fruit is removed from its stem and collected from the earth.
The watermelon is attributed to the Blacks in America, and to the Eastern Jews and Arabs in Israel. In the diptych I show several men throwing individually one hidden melon at a time, passing the heavy fruit between them - they are many pickers and the green explosive melon are removed "one at a time".
In "DeadSee" - I am alone, and the hundreds of melons are trapping me in a coil raft. But who is pulling my raft and unwinding the coil? Erasing the image and clearing the screen? where do "I" go?... The Manda boys work silently in a line like a plow machine, going about labor which a violent machine can not do.I don't know how I discovered that watermelons grow sweater in the desert when hydrated with salt water wells... In any case, shifting the metaphor from the cultivation of strange fruit to the salt lake and to the dessert: a strange place - The fruit turned into the "good" surrounded by the impossibly dead and dry. I used this very common and real matrix to show a vulnerable body but primarily the sea's buoyancy, a wound, and a healing process... I drifted in the coil with one eye in the turquoise salt solution.
How does one turn from being a victim to becoming a survivor? - I am sure that because I do not have the answer to this question - I had to make this redefinition. I "reset the object" and re-charged it with meaning.
And now?... How do my red watermelon eyes arrive from my world and into your sight? Out of a field where you can only see green leaves, watermelons grow in hiding, visible only to the people of Manda...

Sigalit Landau, September 2010

Sigalit Landau was born in 1969 and raised in Jerusalem. She currently lives and works in Tel Aviv. She attended the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design where she received a B.F.A. in 1995. She also went to the Cooper Union, New York, and was a student of Hans Haacke’s.
Landau has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions: at the Documenta X of Kassel (1997), the KW Institute for contemporary art in Berlin (2007) and at the MoMA in New York (2008).
Sigalit Landau has been selected to represent Israel at the 2011 Venice Biennale, curated by Jean de Loisy and Ilan Wizgan.

Tags: Hans Haacke, Sigalit Landau