Playful and poetic mysteries at the ICA

Uri Nir’s digital print “Sphinx” (2006)

If the title of the ICA’s new exhibition, “Blowing on a Hairy Shoulder/Grief Hunters” doesn’t exactly suggest what might be on display inside, well, that’s exactly the point, according to curator Doron Rabina.

“The weird title doesn’t define the concept of the exhibition,” he admitted during a recent walkthrough of the show. “It’s more poetic than informative.”

Given the work that Rabina has selected for the exhibition, one would be hard-pressed to come up with any title that summed up its eclectic subject matter and often puzzling approaches. Consisting of 20 contemporary artists from Rabina’s native Israel, Greece, Germany, Belgium, Britain and America, working in video, photography, drawing and sculpture, the only unifying theme seems to be a mystifying playfulness.

Ariel Schlesinger’s repurposed objects include a lighter-turned-oil lamp and used socks made into a tie and handkerchief (the artist lamented that the piece was “quite old and all the smell is gone”); Gilad Ratman’s video features people submerged in mud, breathing through plastic tubes; Eli Petel’s installation is a flea market-like aggregation of cast-off objects.

The unifying idea, Rabina finally offered, has to do with “the relationship between two concepts: originality and origin,” while the “grief part looks at creativity as rebellion against death or the concept of an end.”


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