Outset Israel supported artist ORIT RAFF’s new video work Butterflies, first presented in the exhibition “Last Chance to See”.
In Butterflies, ORIT RAFF embarks on a journey along the Burma Road, the bypass route over which supplies were transported to the then besieged Jerusalem during the War of Independence. She physically traces the driving route used by the armoured convoys between Latrun and Jerusalem, holding a bouquet of balloons shaped like “butterfly” armoured cars, whose nickname derives from the ventilation apertures in the roof reminiscent of butterfly wings.
In a nearly childish gesture, performed over an exhausting 15-km hike, RAFF releases the balloons one by one, like disappearing tracks or futile road signs. As opposed to the heavily armoured steel car skeletons, which were left on the roadside to commemorate the difficulties along the way, the armoured-car balloons soar high lightly and airily. The irony, innate to the chosen name “butterflies” for those crude, heavy vehicles, is reinforced through the juxtaposition of the military aesthetics of the armoured car with the release of the balloons associated with the childhood world.
The balloon release, while climbing uphill toward the Holy City, conceals the sacred and the profane, effort and determination, hope and despair. RAFF’s march calls the pilgrims of the past to mind; those who embarked on a heroic journey, which involved numerous dangers and hardships, to fulfil a religious commandment. In Butterflies, the focal point is not the sacred destination and arrival thereto, but rather the process and the physical journey, which consists entirely of an intense monotonous act. As in RAFF’s previous works, this ostensibly futile Sisyphean act demands determination and devotion, characteristic of a naïve world view.