The exhibition FOOTNOTES PLAYING DEAD is Idit Elia Nathan’s (PhD candidate at CSM) first solo show. It opened at Standpoint Gallery in London on the 15th January and will run till 14th Feb 2015.
Footnotes Playing Dead is the culmination of 5 years of practice-based research titled Art of Play in Zones of Conflict, which explores the intersections between the seemingly unrelated phenomenons of play and conflict.
The exhibition title takes its cue from the opening lines of Günter Grass’ famously controversial poem What Must Be Said, which considers personal and collective responsibilities in times of adversity and interminable conflict. The title also reflects on children’s games and certain theatrical demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza as well as more recently here in London, where people pretend to be dead in order to highlight the way in which children and innocent civilians are targeted by one of the most powerful armies in the world.
Tell us about the work you are showing in Footnotes Playing Dead and why did you choose this work?
The artworks are all playful and interactive because I wanted to create participatory experiences in which the viewers are invited to “play with” and explore for themselves the complexities of conflicts, which as stated by Artist Simon Leung
‘…even if we do not live under the direct threat of war’s violence, we understand ourselves in relationship to the state-sanctioned killing of others, elsewhere, in our time, and at times in our name’.
I included three projects which are central to my research and which I wanted to concentrate in one space. For example Seven Walks in a Holy City which explores Jerusalem, the city I grew up and left more than twenty years ago is explored through walks of varying length, thematic foci and staring points, all determined by cards and dice. Following the walks I produced seven series of postcards, which are on display and available for purchase. Another project called Hegemonopoly/Machsompoly is an adaptation of the classic monopoly game to reflect on the landscape of Israel Palestine with its wealth of settlements as well as checkpoints and where freedom of movement and restrictions on it are not equal to all, as those playing in the gallery soon find out. In Painting the City Golden or a Leaf from Tansy’s Book the gallery visitors are invited to ‘colour in’ their own version of one of the city’s most iconic tourist sites.
There are other games such as a triptych of HAND MADE MEMORY GAMES where all the cards are made out of black and white photos from different parts of the world as well as from a variety of historical times with subject matters ranging from Aerial Bombs in the first to Checkpoints and Refugees inthe second and third, making it tricky to win. And there is my first inkjet print Invisible Cities Series, No. 1 and my first artists book Please watch ur head, published with marmalade publishers of visual culture so its a very varied show.
It has been particularly interesting to get all the artworks of recent years into one space and it was great to site the work at Standpoint gallery, with its intimate and evocative features such as the lift with its heavy metal mesh doors. The opening event included a raffle of postcard paintings which will be sent out to the winners once the show comes down. So far I have had some excellent feedback and with two discussion events planned it promises to be a busy and interesting month for me.
Why did you choose CSM for your PhD studies, and how did you find the experience? (how has studying for a PhD developed your work)
When I started considering the possibility of embarking on a research project to contextuaise work that was loosely tied together a friend pointed me in the direction of my now supervisors Pam Skelton and Professor Anne Tallantire. I knew and admired their work and was delsighted when they offered me a place. They were then joined by Caterina Albano and I now have an amazing team of supervisors, each contributing from their own perspective so its proved to be a very rich experience so far. There is no doubt that the research has impacted positively on the work I have made in ways that I am still in the process of reflecting on and I hope will be articulated in the thesis itself. It seems to have made me more reflective and I’d like to think a better writer too. In terms of the work produced I think it has benefited from the contextual research and hopefully become richer and more rigorous.
How do you juggle being a PhD student and practitioner?
It is a challenge and I have given up on trying to find the perfect balance – it just doesn’t exist. Some weeks/months are dedicated to making work and others to writing and the word juggling is the right one in this context. I make work, sometimes relating to the thesis, at others less so, and then it feels like I will never manage to write about it or get back to the thesis and then it can be quite the opposite – making the work – means that some of the thoughts fall much more easily onto the page and find their way into the thesis. As fluxus’ score says ‘you never quite know.’
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