The exhibition explores vulnerability and means of communication in a volatile digitalized world through the prism of a darkroom. The term darkroom is most commonly associated with a workplace in which film and photographic paper are developed to make photographic prints. Nevertheless, the same term is also used to describe a darkened room, sometimes located in a nightclub, bathhouse, or sex club, (backroom) where sexual activity takes place.
Darkrooms are losing their relevance in our digital times, when sex and image producing can be found and made easily through the internet and simple and popular electronic devices. Chat rooms and digital cameras - omnipresent in mobile phones - are providing almost everyone in the western world a chance to have quick and easy sex just as it allows the possibility to make quick and easy pictures and films.
While the effects of employing digital means for sex and for art is yet to be fully understood, the current exhibition offers an intimate peek into the work of a young generation of artists, mostly men, giving account of themselves and their surroundings, even when it seems at first gloomy, self-centered or overly narrow. Vulnerability, obsession and sexuality are reconstructed and perceived from the hidden, voyeuristic and secluded area of a darkroom, prompting reflection and a second look at what many would consider indecent. It calls upon an investigation of the darkroom as a structure that is private and lonely while being also a space for experimentation, communication and intimacy.
Amir Fattal's works are an on going self investigation of spaces for sex - whether it be a sex party, a darkroom or the living room of a person he has met through an internet dating site. Sexuality, masculinity and the representation of the human body are investigated through photography, video and sound. Some works directly confront sexual behavior; while others uncover the "behind the scenes" of a sex party with images of black plastic bags in which the participating men in leave their clothes.
Fetishism of the male body, as well as his own body is revealed in Stigmata (self portrait), a work by Carl Hopgood. The fists, cast according to the artist's own hands, are juxtaposed between violence and the fear of being punched by a stronger man and private sexual desires of fist fucking and the ambiguity between intimacy and sex.
Shinjuku Kabukicho Project created by Shiro Masuyama imitates a typical electric sign box for porn peeping rooms, based on commonly seen boxes in the Kabukicho sex industry area in Tokyo, with flashy catch-phrases to draw attention of passers by. When people look through the peep-hole of the sign box timidly expecting something erotic, they find an embarrassing video image of themselves peeping.
Yochai Matos's collection of objects that he uses in his work -almost always personal- spans from jewelry to a street sign, from an old tripod to a light bulb once used for healing methods. All these objects come together in an attempt to hide an image while at the same time exposing it and giving an account of the process. The artist and the viewer are drawn into the work with confusion and uncertainty, wishing to be revealed or stay anonymous, as light, masculinity and fragility are examined.
The artist chose to model an object after a childhood game - where one reaches into a sealed box, and through touching, one must guess the identity of the object inside. Instead of a simple hole, there is an orifice-like opening, which needs to be pushed through and breached in order to arrive at the internal space of the box. The opening leads into a sealed sleeve (similar to the one used when loading photo negatives). Reaching into the box activates the sound, in the form of GPS-like directions, instructing the "user" which way to go. Since the box itself is empty, the directions are quite meaningless, and lead nowhere. These latter directions may also be seen as instructions during lovemaking, where one person guides another towards greater pleasure. The voice symbolizes the futility of technique as means for true intimacy.
Concealing the face while exposing the rest of their body, Dean Sameshima's work represents images of a generation. It seems that almost every man these days has a self-made digital portrait of himself for his profile on dating Internet sites. Identity is hidden and discretion is kept while trying to establish communication with other flash masked men in the mask parade of on-line dating and sex fetish parties.
Informed by concerns with youth culture and the observations of the collisions between corruption and innocence. In this work, Trowbridge explores the utterly unarousing guts of pornographic imagery. Being that the majority of porn is now found on the Internet, the ways that these images are transmitted are of course via digital files- jpegs are still pictures and mpegs are movies. Observing that the code- the data that allows the images and movies to be visible on your computer screen- looks foreign, he presents the viewer with the sterile code in different formats, which signify situations of arousal
Naama Tsabar's work reflects on nightlife and club culture as her installation draws connections between peeping holes, glory holes and the enjoyment and use of alcohol. The installation transfers into an almost fatal situation - Bottles of alcohol contaminate the white sheets throughout the duration of the exhibition. Where the sheet meets the Cognac the private and the public collide into an endless Molotov bottle, the consumption of the drink and the realization of the riot that will never be realized.
Tobaron Waxman's Diaspora NYC is the final image out of a series in which the artist's (sited in the picture) hair is shaved. The cutting of the hair can be perceived as lose of male power and strength (as in the biblical story of Samson and Delilah) and at the very same time as the gain of a stronger masculine visibility and identity. The Tzitzit ('fringes' worn by observant Jews derived from the Hebrew word for 'hair') also evident at the photo, provides a binding link and establishes an intimate space between the figures and god, as it calls to mind the Judaism division of commandments regulating human conduct among themselves and human conduct in relation to god.
ABOUT THE CURATOR:
Mr. Feldman founded (2006) and co-curates Vdance Festival at the Tel-Aviv Cinematheque. The yearly festival is the only platform in Israel dedicated to the research and presentation of movement and performance on film and video. Following a 5 months scholarship and residency at the NBK gallery in Berlin in 2008, Mr. Feldman works and lives between Berlin and Tel-Aviv, programming, producing and curating. Among others, for the Jerusalem Film Festival, the Petach-Tikva Museum of Art and The Israel Museum, Israel.