Curator: Leah Abir
Opening: Thursday, Nov 24, 2016, at 8pm
Through Dec 24, 2014
RawArt Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Keren Gueller’s solo show “Florence Syndrome.” A video installation composed of 45 video works, the exhibition is the result of a long-term visual and conceptual research, during which the artist filmed a variety of animals in different conditions and environments. Gueller has edited the materials she of the years into short segments, each focusing on the behavior of a different animal, so that its corporal gestures take up most of our attention. All 45 short videos are screened and looped simultaneously in the gallery.
In “Florence Syndrome”, each of the animal clips is accompanied by a short text that concisely and coldly describes a certain psychological disorder. We have a delusional rhinoceros, an alligator that suffers from panic attacks, an exhibitionist bat, two lions that have chronic sadness and an ex-circus elephant with PTSD. The juxtaposition of these texts and images, together with the multiplicity of screens and the repetition of the animals’ physical gestures, turn these animal documentations into a demonstration of what we call “mental disorders,” as well as of their diagnostic mechanisms. Gueller’s actions put emphasis on the way humanity classifies different behaviors as abnormal, thereby producing the norm through what it excludes from it.
In Gueller’s works, the abnormal or the deviant, the disorder or the illness is coupled with a video documentation of an animal – one of man’s ultimate Others. Among the many clips, those that depict animals in captivity stand out, pointing to human inflicted confinement, which is also the condition that enable the uninterrupted human gaze at the animal. The rhetorical means that Gueller uses produce an active spectator who defines and categorizes; who is curious or panicked; who identifies with the disturbed animals. In Gueller’s spectacle of signs, the human is mixed with the animal, and the visual with the textual, while mechanisms of definition, demonstration, control and supervision are constantly reproduced, as are structures that create affects (or symptoms) of humor, distress, and suffering.
The correlations between word and image, definition and behavior, phenomena and category, stand at the heart of this show. Its title, “Florence Syndrome,” places these tensions within the context of art and its effects. The title points to the well-known psychosomatic syndrome, also called hyperkulturemania or Stendhal Syndrome, which was named after the 19th century French writer whose travel journals from Italy describe the ecstasy, heart palpitations, “nerves,” and fear of falling that overcame him when looking at a Giotto’s mural in a Florentine basilica. Even though the name “Florence Syndrome” was only given to this phenomenon in the second half of the 20th century, the “tourist illness” that undermines one’s control and grip over reality in the presence of artworks, has been described in numerous texts for centuries.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalog with essays by Yair Garbuz and Rivka Warshawsky.
The exhibition and catalog is supported by The New Fund for Cinema and Television, The Mifal Hapais Council for the Culture and Arts, and The Faculty of Arts – Hamidrasha at Beit Berl College.
Keren Gueller (b. 1976) lives and works in Holon. A 2003 MFA graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Gueller creates experimental video works, sculptures and installations, which explore human and animal behavior, as well as its surroundings. Gueller has had solo exhibitions at Kav 16 Community Gallery in Tel Aviv, Tmuna Theatre Gallery in Tel Aviv, The Beeri Kibbutz Gallery, Kfar Saba City Gallery, Haifa Museum of art and the Ramat Gan Museum of Israeli Art. Her work has also been exhibited in various group exhibitions at The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, The Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, MoBY (Museums of Bat Yam), Kulturhuset Stockholm, The Digital Art Lab in Holon, and The Video Art Festival in Berlin, among others.