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Yael Bartana Proclaims that Patriarchy is History at Galleria Raffaella Cortese

  • Yael Bartana - Bury Our Weapons Not Our Bodies
February 22, 2020
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

Ever since its opening in 1995, the Milan-based Galleria Raffaella Cortese tends to push the boundaries by representing multidisciplinary and critically engaged projects mostly made by women artists. The gallery’s exhibition program devotedly pays attention to the burning topics concerning identities (both national and political), feminist issues, as well as matters of language and literature.

In 2020, the gallery celebrates the 25th anniversary of their work with the ambitious program including the upcoming exhibition and the third solo by the renowned Israeli artist Yael Bartana, known for her multimedia practice focused on the exploration of the politics of memory and identity, as well as the notion of belonging.

Under the rebellious title, Patriarchy is History, the show will be centered on the performance Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies! underlining the specific methodology of public military rituals and other nation-state rituals.

Yael Bartana - Patriarchy is History
Yael Bartana – Patriarchy is History, 2019. Neon. Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan. Photo: Tom Haartsen

Dismantling The Memory

Yael Bartana received special attention for her project And Europe Will Be Stunned that was shown at the Polish pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition in Venice in 2011. Made between 2006 and 2011, the epic trilogy revisited the history of Polish-Jewish relations and its influence on contemporary Polish identity.

In the past few years, Bartana was mostly working with motion pictures including projects such as Inferno (2013), that features pre-enactment of the destruction of the Third Temple, True Finn (2014), and  Pardes (2015) shot during a spiritual journey in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, as well as Tashlikh (Cast Off) from 2017, a performative video installation that interprets personal objects affiliated with painful experiences of the survivors of various genocides or ethnic persecutions.

Left and Right Yael Bartana - Bury Our Weapons Not Our Bodies
Left and Right: Yael Bartana – Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies!, 2018. Still photograph of performance. Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Works

The whole installment will spread across three exhibition spaces. The exhibition title Patriarchy is History refers to the work of the same name made by the artist in 2019, part of her ongoing project What if Women Ruled the World?; it is a neon sign that stands like a bold statement, referring to recent events in the context of women’s rights on a global scale, followed by museum-like display cases with fossils of weapons from different times in history inside.

On display will be Bartana’s recent video work titled The Undertaker that is practically documentation of the public performance Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies! released in 2018 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art during the artist’s solo show. Inspired by military processions as war festivities, the video features a public ceremonial march lead by a mysterious leader at a funeral. The figures marching are holding weapons while they move through the streets of the city towards Laurel Hill Cemetery, where the burial of the weapons takes place.

The shots taken during the performance which feature specific gestures, elements, and symbols that built the crude atmosphere will be exhibited for the first time.

Yael Bartana - Bury Our Weapons Not Our Bodies
Yael Bartana – Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies!, 2018. Still photograph of performance. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Yael Bartana at Galleria Raffaella Cortese

This exhibition will once again show how uncompromising the practice of Yael Bartana is, as well as the effort she takes to interpret and present matters that are complex and often hard to grasp.

Patriarchy is History will be on display at Galleria Raffaella Cortese in Milan from 28 February until 9 May 2020.

Featured image: Yael Bartana – Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies!, 2018. Still photograph of performance. Philadelphia Museum of Art. All images courtesy of the artist and Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan.