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Looking at Eva Rothschild

Julie M. Gallery, Tel Aviv

August 30 - October 13, 2012

Tali Ben Bassat’s series “Looking at Eva Rothschild” consists of gouache and watercolor on paper works made from 2006 to 2008. It is based on photographs taken in exhibition venues around the world, including the Venice Biennale, the Frieze art fair in London, the Tate Modern in London, and others. The photographs were mostly taken by Ben Bassat herself as part of an ongoing process which comprises consciously observing both venue and viewers, framing through photography, reexamination of that framing at a later time, and, much later still, refining, through painting, certain ideas or visual images found in these frames. These works include recurrent engagement with spaces, a subject which was also part of Ben Bassat’s early computer works. 
They also mark her return to color, a development which came to full fruition in the series “After the Sun Sets” (2011), on view at Noga Gallery in 2012. But unlike artists for whom observation of art works or art venues within their work involves turning their gaze on the past, on the foundational fathers or lost splendor, Ben Bassat looks only at the contemporary, and her gaze is a protracted one. Looking closely at a seemingly insignificant moment, this gaze produces an extended, continuous present.

However, Ben Bassat does not search for the insignificant, nor does she look for social aspects. By taking a close look at the practice of art viewing she searches for that particular, specific moment at which the experience of viewing takes place; the moment at which something intimate comes to pass between viewer and art work; a moment at which the work is activated by the viewer’s gaze and the viewer is activated by the work, as if they have no existence apart. In fact, Ben Bassat’s gaze is part of the process, not just observing it. It is the by-product of an active field in which she takes part in real time: a continuous present in which she explores not just the exhibition venues, the art works, and the viewer but also, and mainly, herself; as if she were searching for her own place between viewer and viewed, artist and art work.

Text by Hadas Maor