11/06 2014

Gilad Ratman, Megaphone of the Primal Scream

Right to the Point #5 / Artists’ Soapbox series: Meeting with Gilad Ratman

Plunged in mud, burying their amps or digging an imaginary passage in the foundations of the Israeli pavilion in Venice, the people Gilad Ratman presents in his filmed performances and installations are invariably in not very orthodox positions. Halfway between utopia, renunciation and the grotesque.

This is the last very good part of Right to the Point/Artists’ Soapbox Series, complete with Gilad Ratman’s utopian verve, wit, and trash. Then representing Israel at the 2013 Venice Biennale, the artist, who was born in Haifa 38 years ago, had at that time imagined a madcap fiction in which a group of people used underground tracks to appear inside the national pavilion, then took part in a sculpture workshop using clay—self-portraits filled with microphones, farcical and at times scary. On the ground floor, a DJ mixed live sounds captured by the microphones in each sculpted head and filled the whole space with primal screams which were accompanied by videos retracing the entire narrative.

Sculpture workshop

This work, which is clearly political because it elliptically broaches the identity and disputed creation of Israel in 1948, is also inspired by the journey made by the architect of the Israeli Pavilion, Zeev Rechter, who left Israel, just like the fictitious sculptures of The Workshop, to go to Venice. Gilad Ratman is a good-natured utopian who would like “people to get up in the morning and go mad if they feel like it, without anybody being able to have control over them”. But for him utopia is always tinged with a spirit of renunciation.

The Workshop. Venice Biennale 2013. Courtesy of the Artist and Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv

Heavy metal 

Another staging, another filmed performance, “Buried Metal” finds its source of inspiration in the highly revolutionary Metallic concert given in Russia in 1991, where the Russian army and police were also present. Gilad Ratman, for his part, invited five Romanian heavy metal groups into the countryside. There they dug a huge hole where they buried their speakers under 10 feet of earth, by night, then, in a circle, let out screams that were even more cavernous and low-pitched than during heavy metal concerts.

A project with five heavy metal bands. 2010-2014. Courtesy of the Artist and Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv

Mud bath 

In his works, Gilad Ratman, who is interested in communities, freedom, politics and music as a liberating force, gives real importance to the narrative, somewhere between terror and wit. Like his Bogeyman, a video in which people plunged in gray mud breathe through plastic tubes and activate sounds created by musical instruments suspended outside the muddy pond, all set up in a studio. Between punishment and liberation of the individual and communities, pathos and poetry, Gilad Ratman is the author of powerful works which have already been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv and at PS1 in New York.

Copyright :The 588 project, 2009. Courtesy of the Artist and Braverman Gallery, Tel Aviv