Forest Tunes (03/11/2005 - 16/12/2005)
In the course of Shai Zakai’s exhibition “Forest Tunes – The Library” opening on Thursday November 3, at 5pm in the Engel Gallery, the public are invited to bring fallen leaves to the gallery and contribute to the direction of inquiry in the exhibition.
Forest Tunes – The Library, a project in process, begun in 1995 and still ongoing, has to do with daylighting the processes set in motion by human beings every day, for the most part hidden, related to the most burning ecological issues in the world, such as the loss of biodiversity, the deforestation, and global warming. The project aims, among other things, to give a ‘face’ to natural entities referred to as the Genius Loci (sense of place).
The exhibition makes use of several media – photography, video-art, installations, text, sound. For about two months, the space of the Engel Gallery is transformed into a black box containing photos from within the ‘dead forest’ and the ‘living forest’, an installation of about 100 black boxes containing leaves and seeds from all over the world, and texts collected over a period of about eight years – the Library.
The ‘Genius Loci' – video-art 4.5 minutes long, serves as the “sound track” of the exhibition and attempts to awaken us to natural entities that are neither human nor
trees but rather the essence of the place. (Much has been written about this in environmental studies, but never has its character been spelled out.) We have become blind to those entities. However, they still exist.
The Library is constructed as though of four geological layers: a layer of man-inflicted environmental damages, a layer of local/global insights, a personal/global diary and the Nari, simple magic. The Library includes scientific, artistic & environmental disciplines; through it one can experience the growing dissonance between man and place, and become acquainted with aspects of the global and the local culture of the twenty-first century.
The public are invited to bring fallen leaves to the gallery from places that have significance for them (with written explanations), to “leaf through” 'books' from Provence, Korea, Japan, Australia, Cyprus, France, Turkey, the Valley of the Goddess in Israel, and more, to read the texts planted inside each box, and to ponder on the species that we are destroying unthinkingly all the time, and that take place before our very eyes. The Library is, at one and the same time, a personal and collective diary of events, a documentation of environmental damage, a lack of environmental awareness, and a mapping of species/aesthetic values to be preserved. The leaves deposited in the Library function as relics; they are markers of the nature that was and the connection that was. Nature in boxes.
The visitors are given a copy of the inventory and may choose whether to carry out a random meetings with leaves & texts, or else to focus their choices on particular boxes selected from the inventory.
The Library is connected metaphorically by the Dewey System to art libraries throughout the
world. The texts are written in such a way as to combine documentation, scientific data, and poetic observation.
Shai Zakai, a photographer and ecological artist, author of the book Faces and Facets (Portrait of a Woman) and the project “Concrete Creek 1999-2002” – in which reclamation of a stream functions as an artistic creation. She is the director/ founder of the “Israeli Forum for Ecological Art,” and holds an M.A. degree in Art and Environmental Policy. She has displayed more than fifty exhibitions in museums and galleries in Israel and throughout the world. Her works are to be found in both private and museum collections. She has represented Israel in the Art Biennale in Korea and in art and environment exhibitions and symposia in Africa, Japan, Italy, China, the United States, and more. She is a guest lecturer and curator in the field of ecological art .
From the text of Professor Zuckermann, Tel Aviv University:
“…Shai Zakai is the Israeli artist par excellence whose creative oeuvre in recent years has been devoted almost entirely to wrestling with the history of this complex and problematic relationship between nature and civilization, a relationship that has developed during the last few decades into a worldwide critical discourse about what is referred to as “the severe ecological problem” (some call it the “ecological Holocaust”) now confronting human civilization…Shai Zakai intervenes in nature in order to rescue from it what has been afflicted by alien intervention…”