Site-specific installation, mixed media
Curators: Rinat Edelstein, Li-hi Shulov
The work traverses three exhibition spaces: the private home, the museum, and the artist’s installation. The inception of the work was in an artists’ tour that took place prior to the exhibition, during which Amar was exposed to the exhibits in the Museum for Islamic Art. The main features of the museum’s collection, everyday objects from Islamic countries displayed in vitrines, made him feel strangely at home. He recalled the cabinet in his grandmother’s home filled with tableware and decorative objects with Islamic decorations from Morocco, jewelry with unfamiliar symbols, alien textiles, objects no longer used that had become artefacts. The gap between the functional purpose of these objects and the non-use to which they were relegated after they had been made into exhibits in an attempt to preserve the memory led Amar, in his work, to remove the items from the vitrines and reawaken the human happenings around them.
In the installation, which simulates an entrance hall, he creates a kind of passageway, a sensory gateway, with signifiers creating a living weave of pulsating memory. The viewer entering this foyer is flooded with smells, atmosphere, nostalgia—sensations that, for Amar, can exist only when nothing interferes between viewer and object. He wants to bring to the entrance to the museum unframed and undated knowledge. By breaking with the conventional Western modes of display, he demonstrates the cultural richness that he absorbed throughout his life, especially from his family and the Arabic symbols that are an inseparable part of his identity. Among other things, he uses ready-made objects, and through manipulation of materials, he creates a new surrounding based on symbols from Arab culture, the neighborhood of Talbiyeh, and other influences that trickled into the creative process.
Facing stones from neighboring courtyards, symbols copied from exhibits in the museum, or from decorations on Arab architecture in Israel, drinking glasses from Morocco and Jordan, castings made in the yard of the artist’s studio in Ramat Gan, local flora and curbside finds were incorporated into the work which reflects the artist’s many-sided identity. Amar sees himself as having an Arab identity, with all the conflict and tension this sentiment embodies. He does not speak Arabic. His family hid its language from the younger generations, causing it to fade from their historical identity. Like many Israelis, he was taught to view its speakers as the enemy, and like a soldier, to fight against it. It was not for nothing the Moroccan tableware, like fossilized remains, was stored away in his grandmother’s cupboard. They were forbidden objects by society and the establishment, like the language, customs, and tradition that Amar sought to escape or to hide from his surroundings.
Amar aspires to restore its former glory, to reveal the culture that unites generations, regardless of religion, and shared by all. This, despite the ongoing repression of the collective social consciousness. Through the work Entryway, he seeks to return to Arab culture and to place it prominently in the foreground as part of the history and identity of many Israelis.
Text by: Rinat Edelstein & Hadassa Cohen.