Outset Israel supported Sun Stand Still, Gal Weinstein’s project for the Israeli pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, curated by Tami Katz-Freiman. This project is a new site-specific installation which explores the human desire to stop time. Reflecting a fascination with actual and potential forms of creation and destruction, progress and devastation, this project critically engages with the mythological and Romantic images embedded in Israel’s collective memory. Each part of the exhibition is related to works created by Weinstein over the past decade, so that his entire oeuvre is woven into a single, cohesive installation.
The installation’s title refers to the biblical miracle performed by the ancient Israelite leader Joshua Bin-Nun, who sought to win his battle against the kings of Canaan before darkness fell. By commanding the sun to stop in its course, Bin-Nun attempted to arrest the passage of time. The central axis of the project –Moon over Ayalon Valley – is a representation of this biblical miracle. The exhibition transforms the national pavilion – both physically and metaphorically – into an abandoned site; a desolate, moldy and decaying building whose days of glory have long passed, a ghostly space pervaded by signs of decline.
Jezreel Valley in the Dark – a floor installation on the intermediate level – consists of puzzle-shaped agricultural plots filled with coffee dregs. This “agricultural laboratory” is an ironic inversion of agricultural processes, as actions related to order, cultivation, and maintenance are replaced by inaction and neglect. On the pavilion’s upper level, Weinstein’s preoccupation with freezing time is underscored in a sculptural work depicting a missile or satellite launch pad made of Acrilan fiber.
The project may be interpreted as a melancholic and poetic allegory of the Israeli story – one composed of miraculous acts and moments of enlightenment as well as neglect and destruction, a story vacillating between a megalomaniac soaring to great heights and a resounding crash. The divine miracle in the Ayalon Valley is related here to the Zionist project of conquering a seemingly barren wilderness, alongside expressions of technological progress and the mold agriculture. However, taken together, these works create a narrative that may also be read as a post-apocalyptic vision, revealing the cost of human hubris in the enterprise of civilization.