Hebeschiebewerk10.02. - 23.04.2001

by Barak Bar-Am
(conceived as a site-specific installation for Gallery Dorothea Deimann, Basel, 1999)

The installation "Hebeschiebewerk" consists of several elements:
'CPU ATRIUM' basic shape is that of a large simple box with P.V.C surfaces on all 4 sides. The top has been removed to allow us to view its inner structure. The work invites the spectator to look from above on a group of images and structures located in its core. This top-view, a perspective which recurs elsewhere in Bar-Am's work, suggests an architectural frame of reference and might explain the arrangement of different elements and their inner relationships and hierarchies. The schiffshebewerk video loop in the center is surrounded by a structure of planes. This structure resembles a cooling apparatus and is accompanied by three electric ventilators, all inside an 'ATRIUM BOX'.
Mediating between the work's core and its boundary is a structure that resembles the inside view of enlarged processor.
Bar-Am suggests that this element aspires to operate like the scheme of a reactor. Several layers of interpretation come in mind in front (or rather above) this scheme - a cybernetic versus mechanical paradigm, or that of physiological apparatus of memory versus inner space.

Tel Aviv 1940s'1:17 MODEL' is based on the 'Poliashuk' building, an International Style office building, built by two architects, Laiskowsky and Ornstein, in 1934 in the old center of Tel Aviv. The building is characterized by a 'Mendelsohn facade' resembling a face of a ship, which is typical to Tel Aviv's architecture of the period.
In this work Bar-Am realizes the "Nautical" potential embodied in the 'Mendelsohn facade'.
Here, in the showspace, this building becomes a matchbox car, a P.V.C 1:17 scale-model train, running in circles on the gallery floor.
The logic behind this architectural toy is that of displacement through transformation, which in turn suggests a possible destiny of an architectural phrase from another time and space.

Alexanderplatz_loop Alexanderplatz_loop Alexanderplatz_loop 'ALEXANDERPLATZ LOOP', taken by Bar-Am and projected on the near wall, shows another axis of transformation - that of the International Style - which originated in Germany, was imported to Israel and practiced in a pure and naive form by Tel Aviv architects, and can likewise be seen in its Bolshevik high modernist variants, in Alexanderplaz in East Berlin.
The Tel Aviv / Berlin axis, linking naive forms and authoritarian spaces is not judgemental, it marks again a potential of transformation of ideas and styles.

Esso_tanks Basel'WALL PIECE' has been created for this installation, although it makes specific reference to its real-world display context in Dorothea Deimann - Räume für Kunst in Basel. It is a free standing wood and P.V.C wall construction, with graphic elements in red, grey, black and white.
This big abstract surface borrows its color scheme and formal vocabulary from a huge Esso oil-tanker which is visible through the gallery's window.
The work operates at the level of displacement, transforming the surface of this capitalist icon into other surface: such as an indoor mural or an abstract painting. As a part of the Hebeschiebewerk installation, this piece appears as an anchor to an everyday, 'real' phenomenon, as a reference to the nearby environment of an industrial river-bank Harbor.

[Text by Ohad Meromi, from the catalogue]

Other works by Barak Bar-Am:


DEFAULT - an exercise in public aestetics