Hidden Correspondence, The Gaze, 2002
Having previously created artworks with beehives, honey, milk powder, earth, water and air, I decided in 1998 to use large amount of olives. It was a buried memory, a memory linked both to my arrival in Israel and to the First Lebanon War that triggered my desire to use olives. Back in the summer 1982, I had volunteered in the olive factory of the Kibbutz Beit Hashita while studying at the Hebrew University. I went back to the olive factory of Beit Hashita in 1998, during that visit, I learned that it was exporting olives to the US, so I decided to use their black barrels and fill them up with olive pits. Everywhere present, olives are an intrinsic part of the landscape and of culinary habits, it is also a symbol of peace albeit an abstract symbol and over the years I came to realised that often uprooted and transplanted, olive trees have become part of the conflict over disputed territories.
In the show in Cleveland I created the installation, Correspondence, with many barrels full of olive pits lightened by a dim red light. The show was exhibited three years later at the Kibbutz Be’eri. It was there that I filmed the interior of these barrels creating my first short video in which motion was created by the red bulb moving inside the barrel.
The Gaze presents on a double screen a motionless world suddenly coming alive, hovering above these olive landscapes, locked within a round circle, my eye, the very manifestation of a disembodied monocular vision staring at the viewer.
Later I met similar disembodied eyes in Man Ray’s work and other Surrealists artists. I also remembered ‘the eye’ staring in Victor Hugo’s famous poem ‘Cain’ which I had studied in school…
“The Gaze” that photographs the interior of the barrels full of olive pits, simulates a sensuous, living world dual in its images, which contains both primeval darkness and radiant red light. What goes on there is viewed from above by one eye (the artist’s). This is the eye of control and criticism, the eye that represents, appropriates, organises the visible in a rational manner and wonder about its relations with the experiential, sensuous world beneath it.
Hadara Scheflan-Katsav (Extracts from Hidden Correspondences 2002)