Sylvielin's Blog

Image of the Exiled- Traces, a Solo Exhibition by Amos Gitaï

Posted in Between Art & Cinema by sylvielin on February 27, 2013

(View images on the original webpage of the article, http://www.atfm.asia/en/article.php?id=37)

Internationally renowned Israeli filmmaker, Amos Gitaï (1950~), began to make films in the seventies. The battle in Kippour, Israelin1973 represented the turning point of his life : Gitaï survived miraculously after his helicopter was shot down. He described the experience in his feature filmKippour(2000). In the same way, the history of and the political situation in Europe as well as those of Israel and the life of the exiled become the motif of his documentaries and feature films (Gitaï himself has lived in Paris in the eighties and returned to live in his homeland, Israel in the nineties).

In 2011, Gitaï shot Lullaby to My Father Munio Weinraub Gitaï, a feature film about his father. During the thirties, his father studied architecture in the Bauhaus School and was accused of being harmful to the German people just because he had ditributed political brochures. After sufferring from punishment and imprisonment, his father then exiled in Switzerland before living permanently in Israel, where he designed architecture for a kibbutz, meaning collective farming communities in Israel under the influence of socialism and Zionism. Recently, in his solo exhibition Traces in the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (until the 10th April), through an array of documents and films, Amos Gitaï represents the entanglements of the life of his father with the history of the Nazis and of Israel.

The venue of Tracesis situated in the abandoned underground space of the Palais. In the immense, dark space filled with the ambiance of ruins, we see documents about Gitaï’s father : photographs of him in the Bauhaus School period, accusation letters issued by the court, his blueprints for a  kibbutz in Israel, etc. Alongside are several sequences extracted from Gitaï’s films including the opening scene of Berlin-Jerusalem(1989) which is an imitation of Dadaist painter George Grosz ; the women(played by dancers from Pina Bausch’s dance group) look like as if coming out of a painting by Ernst Kirchner, evoking the atmosphere of Berlin in the twenties and the thirties. The film will thendescribe Berlin under the Nazi dictatorship and a kibbutzin Israel. We also see the opening scene of Free Zone(2005) showing the actress Natalie Portman crying ceaselessly, after quitting her ex-lover and before traversing the borders of Jordan.

Besides, there is the projection of Gitaï’s documentary,In the Name of the Duce(1994) that films the campaigns of Mussolini’s granddaughter, Alessandra Mussolini, in Naples in 1993. The exhibition also shows several scenes from Lullaby to My Father Munio Weinraub Gitaï, showing re-enactments of the trials that Gitaï’s father underwent, the typewriter that sends off the accusation letter, as well as a sequence showing the architecture of Zeppelinfeld in Nuremburg that used to be the Nazi party rally ground… The soundtracks of the films repeat themselves along with the images in loop : the aggressive noise of the typewriter, the accordion music and singing in a cabaret, a brisk Israeli chant…Particularly, each projection is surrounded by fences as of a construction site, reinforcing the feeling of imprisonment.

The solo exhibition Traces takes as its starting point an individual, Gitaï’s father, prosecuted by the war and refers extensively to atrocities of dictators in the history and of today. The show attempts to accuse back through documents and images, which echoes perfectly with the history of the venue itself : during the World War II, the site served to stock the pillage from the Jews. As Gitaï himself puts it : ”I want to continue the duel with Nazi’s authoritarian architecture.[…]Hitler loved the Trocadéro during his occupation of France and all his photographs were taken in front of the Trocadéro”. In this way,  Traces follows the motif of Gitaï’s filmmaking. Through the collision of multiple sountracks and images, the show sketches the trajectory and the destiny of the exiled that are both individual and collective.

Note

See interview with Gitaï (http://toutelaculture.com/2011/02/amosgitai/). English translation by Sylvie Lin. The Trocadéro is the garden and platform that is opposed to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Palais de Tokyo neighbors the Eiffel Tower.

(*First published on Art Taipei Forum Media, http://www.atfm.asia/en/article.php?id=37, 2011/04/05)

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