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In Great Condition, Right

Haim Maor, The Green Paper, July 2003

Elyasaf Kowner, Miklatok,
the art gallery in Kibbutz Maabarot
(Closing: 25.7.03)

Elyasaf Kowner examines the place from a point of view of an artist who hunts his images while being an urban nomad.
In the last three years, while wandering in the range between Gordon Beach and the Drummers Beach in Tel Aviv, Elyasaf Kowner shoots short videos and 6x6 photographs of figures, objects, and landscapes that fascinate him “in their facade” as he says.
The final result, in the gallery wall photographs, looks like fragmented fashionable-clip-ads lacking a common denominator: Portraits of young girls in exposed bathing suits or in military camouflage T-shirt with an ethnic bead necklace and a golden Star of David; Israeli police cops in their blue uniform, standing next to a barricade in front of a blue wall in the Dolphinarium; The Tel aviv beach with old bathers in the water or goalposts of junior soccer that become the image of a tent or a detached home; The American embassy and Beach Market.
In the gallery’s video screening appears a big dog that wants to drink water from the urban open sewer. In order to drink the water it tries to move a stone that is blocking the opening. Like in the Sisyphus’ myth, the stone comes back and closes the opening, again and again the dog in the TV loop does not let go.
To this entire Jigsaw puzzle Elyasaf Kowner attached the title “In Great Condition”, a name that sounds cynical and ironic in the light of the fact that behind all this nice glamorous facade of “business as usual” lay the signs of contemporary reality.
This reality is also expressed in the text that accompanies the exhibition: “ The name of the exhibition is taken from an flyer that was hanging in the city which offered a gun for sale: “For Sale: A nine mm short gun in great condition, including a leather pouch... That’s how it is around here. People explode in our streets... You need to wear American camouflage shirts to have energy or at least put on ranks... Those muscles, power symbols... Star of David tattoos... the Jewish nation is making a circular muscle”.
In a second look, when the symbols are collected, the design and fashion styles, the facial and body expressions, and double checked one next to another, wall in front of wall, image in front of image, the viewers realize that “it’s all connected” and “it’s all politics” and that we were never “in great condition” such as this one, yeh right.

Dr. Haim Maor (b. 1951) teaches in Ben Gurion universtiy.
Founder of Studio Art Magazine and its first editor (1989-1993)



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