Baggage | Al Ha'tzuk gallery, Netania, Israel, Jan - March 2012

Curator: Maya Kashvitz

In a modest and minimalist exhibition, composed of pieces in various mediums, Noa Yekutieli creates a sterile and intimate space that allows the viewer to go through a journey which she requests to guide. The distinct language common to all the pieces creates a visual consistency that brings together all the separate pieces into one complete experience.

The technique of paper-cutting originates from the Far East, where it was used to decorate and was considered an art form and occupation designated for women alone. This fact corresponds with the reoccurring female character in the pieces which was created deliberately to describe a personal story from the viewing point of the artist, subtly observing various viewpoints of gender. While they are not in the center of the discussion, these viewpoints are important to the emphasis of the message by conveying the clear contrast between fragility, that represents the female characters and the weight of the load under which they are kneeling.

The paper cutting technique demands concentration and precision as well as a labor-induced effort that doesn't allow mistakes. The act of cutting the paper is irreversible, something that stands as an antithesis, but at the same time as an acknowledgement of the human need to control. Unlike the traditional technique, Yekutieli uses the negative areas of the material; in a way chiseling into it, creating an opening in the paper that allows light to enter it and simultaneously using the decorative fashion of the technique-astute aesthetics and clean finishing, from creating a momentary illusion upon glance and to acknowledging the sometimes difficult content.

The exhibition brings up the principle of the cycle of life and the baggage that one carries from birth until death; whether if referring to a physical subject or a conceptual idea, an object or a memory - each person has their own baggage that is accumulated during his or her lifetime that is eventually left behind. This transition illustrates the inevitable loss of control and our predetermined ending.

The series of small works functions as anecdotes of a lifetime, metaphorical situations of that same baggage we carry. The miniature sizes, the fragility and fragmented juxtaposition, allow the viewer to conduct a process of 'identifying' and 'choosing' until reaching the installation, in which he is incorporated into the piece himself - the lines between reality and fiction are blurred and the individual becomes the collective; this is where that same baggage is divided and spread out, and a common fate is shared.

The only piece that uses the positive part of the concept, is 'Elsewhere'. A narrow and frail ladder placed in the center of the space, dangling down from a church-like window in the ceiling. The viewer is offered an opportunity to change his or her fate. They can then choose between carrying the burden and its release or acceptance, between coping and escaping. The round shape of the space and the placement of the ladder in the center of the occurrence that contains various characters dealing with the routine of 'carrying', creating a focal point into which the whole exhibition is directed, also creating an exit point for the viewer stuck inside the story.

The next stage in the journey is the installation, 'Baggage', that functions as the climax of the light and shadow element in the exhibition. The large surfaces into which Yekutieli cuts out large cranes and human figures, cast a formidable shadow on the entire space and create a sense of chaos and loss of control. The comparison of a machine to a human being embeds the idea of 'carrying' as well as the uncontrollable mechanical nature of this action. During the attempt of finding one’s self between the many layers that create this dynamic reality, the viewer becomes a part of the piece, with his or her own shape being reflected through the apertures in the material. From that point, Yekutieli brings the viewer back to a safe and tranquil place where he or she can cope with accepting reality and its transformative nature.

At the end of the journey, the viewer reaches the meditative portion of the exhibition. The piles of flowers and stones, symbols of burial, are places alongside craters that represent our demise; the immortality of the objects emphasizes the temporality of the body. The acknowledgment of this process, similar to the notion that death is a part of life, is condensed into the piece that seals the exhibition, 'Water Drops'; a precise cluster of incoherent content, a surreal description of the idea of life - a crane holding on to drops falling into a boat sailing in a sea that fills up a bucket.
This description summarizes the unfettered cycle of life and its elusive nature.

Through the various components of the exhibition and upon looking at it as a whole, Yekutieli creates an experience of identification for the viewer, of choice and loss of control.
Through the minimalistic use of material and the contrast between black and white, light and darkness, entire philosophical viewpoints compacted into a dichotomy that exists between the difficulties in the ability to release and let go and the easiness of doing so. The emphasis that Yekutieli puts on the dialogue between control and acceptance, is on the option of choice, the need of being aware and identifying; and at the end of the process, the individuals capability to maneuver between being in his or her own and belonging to a much larger happening.