Shalom Life | April 19, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Pardes’ Artists Discuss Koffler Gallery Exhibit

Pardes, which is a word that means ‘orchard’ in Hebrew, explores everything from Jewish mysticism and ritual heresy, military technology and gender ideologies, and marginalize voices and the occult.

By: Sara Torvik

Published: September 22nd, 2014 in Culture » Art » Interviews

Art lovers, this one’s for you. Starting on September 18th and running all the way through until November 30th at the Koffler Centre of the Arts is the sound and multi-media art display entitled Pardes. Pardes, which is a word that means ‘orchard’ in Hebrew, explores everything from Jewish mysticism and ritual heresy, military technology and gender ideologies, and marginalize voices and the occult.

The four artists who will be showcasing their work at Pardes are Nadav Assor, Amnon Wolman, Ira Eduardovna, and Nevet Yitzhak, and they will be exploring all of the above themes as they relate to secular, contemporary society.

The work of Nadav Assor draws a parallel to the machine-like Ophanim angels and examines the obscure undercurrents of drone development. Assor says that the inspiration for his work came from “the incredibly rapid pace at which drone technology is developing, and the understanding that like it or not, we are very soon going to be immersed in autonomous devices that not only speak to us or are worn on our body, but also have physical bodies and the capability for autonomous movement of their own.” With this work Assor hopes that he can expand visitors’ perspectives and make them think about the “possible uses and abuses of these new technologies that in fact manifest some pretty old ideas.”

Nadav Assor, Ophan (detail), 2014

Amnon Wolman takes a different approach in his work by exploring themes of gender and Judaism, using a sound-embedded prayer shawl that is only worn by Jewish men in orthodox circles. The purpose of this is to paint a clear picture by showing the differences between the genders, as well as the different and equal interpretations of Judaism. Visitors can experience this part of the exhibit by wrapping themselves in the shawl and become immersed a composition based on manipulated recordings of talking, singing, and praying. In addition to this, Wolman will also have a Soundbook on display, which is a unique way of transforming a text-based object into an audio work. Reflecting on the inspiration for his work at Pardes, Woman says that the ideas and ideologies “are many, among them are the belief that sound materials can be used to create art works in a similar way to the way painters use colors and different types of paints.” He also says that “Judaism is a many faceted spiritual experience and that no single interpretation of this experience is better or truer. I believe that throughout history there were many different types of interpretations of what Judaism is, some more conservative and others more liberal, and all of them together form the multicolored fabric of the Jewish experience.”

Amnon Wolman, Eight SoundBooks – Architecture (detail), 2013

Ira Eduardonva has put together a fascinating audio/visual piece entitled A Thousand Years, which pairs chorus-sung observations about the Apocalypse with the backdrop of a modern-day sitcom family scene. “The text that the choir is singing in the piece is a prologue of a book “Journey to the End of the Millennium” by Abraham B. Yehoshua,” Eduardonva explains. “The text asks whether there will be someone who remembers us in a thousand years and continues to question what will be the form of the memory then, and whether humanity will survive at all. I love this poetic and apocalyptic text and the piece evolved around the ideas that the text presents.”

Ira Eduardovna, A Thousand Years (video still), 2014

And finally, Nevet Yitzhak’s audio/visual piece “processes archival recordings from the Israel Broadcasting Authority Arabic Orchestra (1948-1993), creating a new composition based on marginalized traditions.” Many of the musicians in the orchestra were Jewish immigrants from Iraq and Egypt who arrived in Israel back in the 1950s and sought to protect their cultural influences, language, and music. Yitzhak deconstructs and reconstructs this classic material, both stressing their historic past, and also providing them with a new platform.

Nevet Yitzhak, A Great Joy Tonight (detail), 2009. Photo: Sharon Hakim. Courtesy of the artist.

Each of these artists brings a unique and eye-opening perspective to the table, and art lovers in Toronto, both Jewish and not, should take the opportunity to see (and hear) them all.

September 18 – November 30, 2014
Koffler Gallery
Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street
Guest Curator: Liora Belford

REGULAR EXHIBITION HOURS:
Tuesday to Friday, 12 PM – 6 PM
 | Saturday & Sunday, 11 AM – 5 PM
Closed Mondays and statutory holidays | Admission is FREE

For more info, visit http://kofflerarts.org/exhibitions/2014/04/17/pardes/

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