Celebrating Israel's 70th Anniversary: Michal Rovner and Tal Shochat

April 12, 2018 to October 14, 2018
Celebrating Israel
160 West Liberty Street
Reno - 89501 NV
In 2018, the State of Israel celebrates seventy years since its founding by the United Nations following World War II, creating a homeland for the Jewish people. To mark this momentous occasion, the Nevada Museum of Art presents work by two female Israeli artists who create work that is simultaneously grounded in the history of photography, while delivering a fresh and independent viewpoint to the dialogue surrounding art + environment.

Several years ago, the Nevada Museum of Art partnered with John and Catherine Farahi to organize a trip to Israel for Museum patrons that combined historical and cultural site visits with architecture tours, museum visits, and stops at artists' studios. Two of the contemporary artists that the group encountered—established sculptor and video artist Michal Rovner, and mid-career photographer Tal Shochat—resonated with the group and with the Nevada Museum of Art's focus on artists and their creative interactions with natural, built, and virtual environments. Works by Rovner and Shochat have been brought together for this exhibition celebrating Israel's anniversary.

Rovner, whose work ranges from video to sculpture and installation, is an established artist whose work has been shown at institutions including the Louvre Museum, Paris, the Tate, London, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others. She creates evocative works touching on timeless themes of humanity and the human figure in the landscape.

With Panorama, Rovner evokes themes of human interaction, dislocation and the persistence of history, while creating a new level of immediacy by further removing the narrative to its barest and most urgent elements. Rovner creates her videos by first filming actors who enact sequenced movements. Little by little through the editorial process, she removes all traces of individual identity so that all that remains is a broad focus on humanity's entirety.

Gardens and trees are a recurring theme in Shochat's work, alluding to the Garden of Eden as well as to Tu BiShvat or "New Year of the Trees," a holiday on the Jewish calendar which is also celebrated among secular Israelis as a day of ecological awareness. Whereas Rovner's work emphasizes abstraction and universality, Shochat's work has a well-honed specificity that connects it to a specific place: the Golan Heights in Israel, near the border with Lebanon and Syria. In a region best known for its contested history, the artist turned her focus toward the remarkably resilient fruit trees that grow on land that farmers have cultivated in roughly the same manner over the course of 400 years. Selecting trees that change their appearances over time—pomegranate, plum, apple, and persimmon—Shochat created triptychs recording each tree in three stages of growth: the fruit set stage, the exfoliation stage, and the bloom stage. Regarding her location scouting in the Golan Heights, the artist observed, "The war in Syria and its consequent movement of refugees close to the border colored my searches throughout this beautiful but dangerous rural environment, with an apocalyptic feeling."
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