Lot 6
  • 6

Michal Rovner

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Description

  • Michal Rovner
  • Tracing II
  • LCD screens, paper and video
  • overall: 176 by 60 by 5.9cm., 69¼ by 23⅝ by 2½ in.

Catalogue Note

Michal Rovner was born in Tel Aviv and spends her time between Israel and New York, working in the media of film and photography. In 1978, with fellow artist Arrie Hammer, she co-founded the Camera Obscura School of Art in Tel Aviv, the city’s first school for photographers.

Despite an installation situated on an electric fence on the Israel-Lebanon border in the line of fire, Rovner’s works eschew the categorisation of political commentary; they rather deal with the universal themes of tension, instability and conflict. Her films undergo a process of ‘paring down’, whereby the images are reduced to near-shadows of the original subjects. The result is a haunting and beautiful visual effect - evocative of Conté crayon drawings - establishing a melancholy sense of the fragility of identity.

Tracing II is a striking installation symptomatic of the artist’s persistent concern for human dynamics: how we define ourselves against others and how unstable those definitions are. Rover explains ‘I present situations of conflict, tensions, fractures… vulnerability. (…) I always begin with reality, I record it and subsequently, little by little, I extract the image of reality, which becomes more fuzzy, losing its own definition and bringing therefore something else’ (Festival Automne, Michel Rovner, Fields/ Fields of Fire, 2005, www.festival-automne.com)

The present work features Cypress trees. The artist recalls how she caught sight of the trees on a walk in Jerusalem at dusk; on the horizon stood Mount Olive. Rovner was struck by the way the trees divided the landscape, segregating her from the mountain, belying their own defencelessness as they swayed in the wind.  In the present work, and consistent with her artistic process, Rovner reduced the image of the landscape she saw and kept only the shape and movement of the trees. As they sway from side to side the shadowy trees cross the borders between the screens, confounding our conventional ideas and assumptions about definition, boundary and transgression.

A video of this work is viewable online at sothebys.com/beyondlimits