Bat Sheva Ross
Review by Elke Segers
Monotonously controlled, in an attempt to push out every irregularity, two different ‘inner’ voices are taking turns in counting from hundred till one. The countdown ends and opens up a hypnotically calm but thorough, albeit mute, interrogation between the two. This yearning to understand is externalized in a two-in-one, half-filmed, half-mirrored face. What better way to expose our ‘addiction to fragmented thoughts’ (and feelings-annex-thoughts)’ Or to render palpable this eternal and cross-cultural human conflict between ratio and emotion’ A focused stillness being the ultimate goal, the medium of video acts here almost as a transcendent meditation vehicle in itself, aiming for overall benefit through emptying one’s mind of any thought. The question of the sceptic remains: does this action of losing oneself culminate in ‘a suicide for the mind’‘
The video positioned in the right corner of the exhibition, Telling A Mind Stop Being A Mind, sets the meditative tone. Bat Sheva Ross (b. 1977 in Israel, lives and works in Brussels and Tel Aviv) plays, an innate Jewish sensitivity at hand, the advocate of the devil, in a broader sense critiquing the creation of spirituality as such. Blown up into a carved out wooden triptych panel, her self-portrait - simultaneously outlining a mega-ego - might refer to her status of artist as creator. Following that same line of thought, she intentionally and very openly puts the portrait out there as ‘a space for things to occur’’ a breathing space, one might even say, which in- and exhales the dense atmosphere of religion. The omnipresent host guides our gaze to the staring force on the opposing wall, where two iconised portraits of Jewish Rabbi’s, painted instead of photographed, seem completely ripped out of their habitat. The maroonish red painted window at the left partially absorbs this lack of customised worshippers to surround and warm them.
The mysticism of an object is ever so more doomingly present in the installation of dozens of brushes over-dripped with wax. Hanging from the ceiling, they are lit by a stalactite corny wooden lamp projecting on the wall what seem the remnants of numerous broomsticks. The retro vinyl flooring underneath, gasping extra texture with crumbles of wax and dust, adds to the theatrical quality of the arrangement. Symbolism - everything ‘falls’ into place - is put diametrically opposite religion as an aesthetical choice; mystery transcends this opposition, perpetrating both doctrines to their deepest fibre.
An unpretentious publication accompanies the exhibition, folded and covered with three portrait posters derived from Bat Sheva Ross’s Rabbinical Figures Series (2007). The booklet contains three texts for which each author explicitly chose to add a different layer to explore. This publication (50 copies of € 3 apiece) was issued by the curatorial collective Komplot. Nomadic and of variable composition and condition since 2002, this vibrant collective explores new terrain in relation to objects, spaces, artists and the public. Newly installed in their venue next Wiels, Komplot produces exhibitions, films, books and an annual magazine titled ‘Year’.