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Keren Gueller | Coral

March 14 - April 20, 2019


Solo Show: Keren Gueller

Curator: Leah Abir

Exhibition Catalogue

What is a good life? What is life that's worth living? What do happiness and stability look like? What does a present that is well prepared for the future look like? In Keren Gueller's new solo show, the artist once again delineates the suffering and absurdity inherent to social constructs. This time, she focuses on a North-American wedding and on the practice of "home staging" – furnishing and accessorizing private houses that are offered for sale on the realestate market.

Divided into multiple scenes, Gueller's main work details the unbearable length of a Canadian wedding. Without showing the wedding party or the matrimony service itself, she presents us with ten films that closely document the long process of posing for photographs throughout the wedding day – the bride poses with the groom, takes a picture with the family (including children and babies), the bride poses once again with the male guests only, then poses with her bridesmaids, all wearing Coral dresses (a color that gave the exhibition its title), and finally – the bride throws her bridesmaids the bouquet, and they jump to catch it. The woman dressed in white, whose makeup is fixed and whose smile is tired, shares the work's focus with the wedding photographers – the planners and announcers of the photographic compositions, who also direct the wedding guests in performing these compositions.

Both rituals featured in the exhibition – the wedding and the house marketing – require professional photograph, and Gueller places her camera right beside them. She does more than relate the crucial role photography plays in constructing the ritual; she deprives the event of the "decisive moment" of still photography, to which all the participants are busy preparing for. Gueller captures in video the durational act of posing for still photographs, as well as the moments between one photograph to another – she rejects the " decisive moment" by insisting of the moment preceding it and the one that follows it. She extends the straightening of backs and the stretching of the lips, exposing the effort, absurdity and artificiality everyone struggles to conceal. Family, love, friendship, partnership – all of these are exposed as labor, as social duties and generic status symbols the individual strives to produce as personal and unique choices.

From the very start, unlike the actions of the wedding photographer, Guller's actions are not aimed at an audience that is familiar with the photographed people, that will identify the figures in the photographs and that for which the photograph will function as a catalyst for personal narratives. Gueller's films are meant anyone but the wedding guests or organizers. By this shift, she strips the wedding photograph of its personal and private features, turning it into a social, collective document. The protagonists of the family ritual, like the absent dwellers of the houses for sale, embody the social structures that produce their past, present and future images.

Wedding photographs, like those of the staged houses, intend to deliver more than a one-time event – a way of life, a lifestyle. In both of the works featured in her exhibition, Gueller highlights the principle of doubling and repetition – the dual and the series – the omnipresent similarity that marks the relation between the personal, familial, community event to the social, national, religious and cultural order. The artifice, the dressing up, the fixing of one's self and surronding to form legible, clear and reassuring codes – all of these are put forward as exachange deals that are under the veil of the passion to participate in the social order.

 

Keren Gueller (b. 1976) lives and works in Tel Aviv. She graduated from the MFA program of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and from the BFA program of Hamidrasha College, Beit Berl. Gueller works mainly with video, sculpture and installation and explores human behavior and environment. She has had solo exhibitions at Kav 16 Community Gallery, Beeri Kibbutz Gallery, Haifa Museum of Art, Ramat Gan Museum of Israeli Art and RawArt Gallery, among others. Her works have been exhibited widely in group exhibitions in various venues, including The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, The Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, MoBY (Museums of Bat Yam), Kulturhuset Stockholm, The Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon, Preview Video Art Festival in Berlin, Hamidrasha Gallery, Basis Art School Gallery, and The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of The Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

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