THE EFFICIENT FRONTIER
Noa Gur's work reflects on artistic practice as a site of production and labour. She often uses variations on self-portraiture to point towards contemporary aporias of the artists as an economic unit, asked to simultaneously show and hide her labour, her body, her face. Gur's practice is mindful of the possible hierarchies and exploitative powers that may act within this process. She also makes reference to the inner conflicts that the self-employed artist experiences as a one-person enterprise. Her installation "Splitting the Atom“ draws inspiration from structuralist anthropological research and classic economic theories. In particular it explores the presumption made by the early economist Adam Smith that the division of labour will lead the 'savage' inhabitants of recently colonized countries step by step into the realm of civilization.
"Splitting the Atom“ refers to the division of the smallest productive unit, the self-employed, in this case the artist, who appears as a living assembly line. The project itself consists of fragments taken from the video documentation of the production process of a simple sculpture, a double cast of the artist's own face. Each of these video clips depicts a stage of production through one representative gesture; pouring the powder, mixing it to a pulp, imprinting the artist's face and the final cast. Each of the video segments is one channel in the six-channel video installation. These are screened alongside one another as a constant loop, thereby creating an impression of continuous and repetitive movement. The installation in its entirety appears to be cyclical and rhythmic, winking at the possibility of reviving Fordist production modes in cognitive and creative work.
"Body Bills“ is a slideshow and a text work based on a live act of exchange. Noa Gur worked as an artist model posing for drawing classes. Instead of a fee, she asked for some of the charcoal drawings and paintings made of her. After each posing session she bargained individually with the participating drawers to determine which and how many drawings she would receive. The recorded dialogs from the bargain appear as subtitles on a television screen that presents no image.
The title "Body Bills“ implies the use of the drawings as 'banknotes,' which can evaluate a fixed rate of hourly wage. It may also regard the model's body as a vigorous agent, billing its debt from centuries of misuse by art-related studies. Here, the body / model is reversing its traditional role of a passive, merely physical wage worker and arranges an efficient set of conditions for her own self portrait at work.
The title of the show is drawn from a contemporary economic term according to which a combination of assets is referred to as 'efficient' if it has the best possible expected level of return for its level of risk.
Noa Gur (Tel Aviv 1980; lives and works in Berlin) studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts, Jerusalem, and the KHM School for Media Art, Cologne. She was winner of a scholarship from Kunst im Tunnel, Düsseldorf (2009), DAAD scholarship for academic excellence (2008-10), and Scholarship of the America-Israel Foundation (2004). In 2013 she is recipient of the German Stiftung Kunstfonds stipend and the Artport Residency in Tel Aviv. Her exhibitions and screenings include: Palais de Tokyo Paris and Kunstwerke Berlin; Souterrain, Berlin; New Talents Biennale, Cologne; Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, Herzliya (Israel); Echoraum, Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn; Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn.