On an autumnal Friday morning, about four years ago, when he was walking his twin children to school, Tomer Sapir’s daughter, Tamara, asked: “But why do I hear the crickets, it’s morning? ” The question sounded to him like the vision of a prophetess who identified a disruption in nature, and echoed a dream he once had, in which he was walking in the pale light of dawn on the outskirts of a ruined city, amid dogfight arenas, the remains of bonfires, blood stains, chains, and dog carcasses. Farther along the way to school, the twins found an oddly-shaped leaf on the ground, with “evil eyes” created by a disease that gnawed on the plant.
This is the beginning and end of an apocalyptic cinematic scene installed by Sapir in the museum, recounting a sin from the past that trickles into a future mythology. The various parts of the cinematic installation—”The Prophetess’s Dream,” “The Warrior’s Training,” “The Ancient Sin, the Curse, and the Victim,” “The 20th Century,” “Invaders,” “The Father’s Dream”—are embodied in different media—video, photography, sculpture, and text—to form a temporal and spatial process.
The ancient sin, which forms a point of departure for the installation, is rooted in the disturbance that occurred in nature—a vague riddle that is not fully understood, but manifests itself as the refusal of mankind, as individuals and as a collective, to take responsibility for the climatic-ecological crisis and the moral-ethical crisis, and for their environmental, social, economic, and political repercussions felt today.
Sapir creates an emergency environment of disaster and survival, which swings between scientific truth and fiction, and between the symbolic-mythical and the scholarly. It is centered on a large makeshift structure, a tent of sorts, a camp or a temporary house made of a combination of organic and synthetic materials: a sheet of dried and manipulated leaves, a sheet of transparent plastic (which Tamara painted and decorated with haberdashery products), an aluminum sheet, and Mylar blankets taken from survival kits. Viewers are invited to enter, sit on cushions, and watch a two-channel video projection: one channel features the son, Nimrod, practicing capoeira with his mentor, Marcelo Oliveira, and the other shows Tamara talking about various mysterious events, including an apocalyptic dream she had.
The video blends personal photographs from Sapir’s trip as a child to alligator-infested swamps in the United States, and from animated and nature films he shot, with documentation of the physical works on view in the gallery: the sheet of leaves, two large sculptures of what seem like mythical creatures, skeletons that were resurrected and became mesmerizing and terrifying presences, remnants of the dog fights, and the inscription: “Moving to a Friendly Territory.” The viewers move between the corporeality of the exhibition space and the material exhibits in it, and their incarnations in the screened video work. Via these transitions, the concepts of the ancient sin, the curse, and the victim are tied together and construed in the intermediate space between the personal-biographical and the universal, the documentary and the speculative. Together they spawn an allegorical treatise on the future of humanity, closely tied to the intimate family unit and to an emotional pendulum swinging between pain and anger, longing and anxiety, guilt and love, compassion, trust, and security.