The Artichoke Ambush

Solo Show – Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel

Summer 2005

Keren Anavy confronts the theme of landscape as a charges and marked place. She attempts to redeem the landscape from its historical and political burden- landscape as an expression of a scene of action and as a place that functions as an allegory for our situation today.

In War Medals she expresses the affinity between man and the landscape using six IDF war medals: those of the War of Independence, the Sinai Campaign, the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, the Lebanon War, and the War of Attrition. By employing a technique whereby she paints the landscape, subsequently covering it with a colorful screen like the authentic color of the war medals, she alludes to conquest and covering. Symbols and medals that stand for the “value” we ascribe to conquest occupy the landscape.

She maintains that the landscapes she chose are typical Israeli landscapes: Sabra hedges and forests of Oaks, Olives, Eucalyptus trees and small Pines customarily planted in JNF forests. By linking the landscape to war medals she endeavors to introduce pertinent questions about the link between the landscape, the space and nature on one hand, and the militant historical past of the place on the other. It is a “landscape-place” that conceals both beauty and pain, bitter memories and naïve yearnings for a romantic landscape and a longing for a tranquility that no longer exists.

The landscape serves Anavy as a sign of identity: planting JNF forests had a major role in creating a new identity for the place, while erasing the old landscape. Concurrently, the forests became a collective commemorative space. In A Comment on the Landscape I & II, Anavy painted JNF forests with commemorative signs. These are memory pictures. Installing memorials in a space that is supposed to represent nature, landscape and leisure, she argues, is a widespread, fascinating and strange phenomenon. Anavy chose to “empty” the landscapes of their natural colors and paint them out of personal, experiential interpretation in brown hues only. The resulting paintings are reminiscent of faded old photographs, snapshots of memory.

Keren Anavy traverses the borderline between political art and escapism, endeavoring to offer the intermediate space in-between them. This is the space where the viewer can confront topical-political issues alongside artistic-aesthetic questions pertaining to the history of the landscape and forest themes in art history.    

Artichoke is a night vision device that serves IDF soldiers*