Nevet Yitzhak’s Off the ruling class in Cleveland 9/17

Nevet Yitzhak creates multi-media installations that absorb viewers in the construction of new narratives. Using found imagery and archival materials, her works challenge perceptions of the past and raise questions about history, conflict, and collective memory.
Yitzhak traveled to Cleveland in early 2015 to explore the city and view objects held in local collections. She was struck by The Cleveland Museum of Art’s Auguste Rodin sculpture The Thinker (c. 1880), which was bombed in 1970. While questions still remain about who executed this destructive act, many attribute it to the Weather Underground, a radical left-wing organization. Then CMA Director Sherman Lee decided to leave Rodin’s original cast unadulterated, and reinstalled the damaged work in its original location. In its mangled state, the sculpture bears witness to a period of violence and political unrest during the Vietnam War.
Yitzhak’s new work takes the form of an installation with two videos. OFF THE RULING CLASS shows an animated 3D model of the sculpture, somberly contemplating its metal limbs and ruptured base. The title was drawn from the graffiti left on the sculpture’s plinth the night of the bombing, a clue to the vandals’ motivations. THE ANTITHINKERS takes the shape of a research journal, combining archival photographs, video, and newspaper clippings with new documentation of the sculpture’s annual conservation. These works connect the trauma of the explosion to Rodin’s original inspiration for the figure: the Poet in Dante’s Divine Comedy (c. 1320), contemplating the value of art in light of human failure and suffering. Through The Thinker, Yitzhak explores the emotional effects of cultural terrorism and the power of icons in secular society—issues that remain extremely relevant in light of the increased destruction of ancient artifacts and monuments in the Middle East.

Nevet Yitzhak (1975) lives and works in Tel Aviv, Israel. She holds an MFA from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. She has had solo exhibitions at Yossi Milo Gallery, New York; NOGA Gallery, Tel Aviv; Museum for Islamic Art, Jerusalem; Herzliya Museum for Contemporary Art, Israel; and Petach Tikva Museum of Art, Israel. Her work is held in the collections of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; and the Shpilman Institute for Photography. In 2014 she was awarded the Biata S. Kulimer Prize from the Israel Museum, and in 2012 she was awarded the The Shmuel Givon Prize from the Tel Aviv Museum and the Creative Encouragement Award from Israel’s Ministry of Culture.

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