Article by Berlin Art Link // June 01, 2020
In films, installations and photographs, artist Yael Bartana confronts political and feminist issues often through the exploration of rituals and festivals. She asks: what relationships exist between personal responsibility and collective action? How can rituals and festivals foster identity, and how can symbols both represent and manipulate ways of thinking? The artist has presented her work around the world, including at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Polish Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale, the Tate Modern in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, among many other venues. Following her sprawling exhibition at Capitain Petzel last year, Berlinische Galerie is now set to screen Bartana’s 2014 film ‘Pardes (Orchard)’ in their IBB Video Space.
From June 4th to 29th, visitors to Berlinische Galerie can watch the 71-minute film, which documents the Israeli artist’s journey to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. While the title ‘Pardes’ references a Jewish exegetic tradition in studying the Torah, the film itself centers around a protagonist who rejects organized religion. Yet, while in Brazil, he undergoes an Ayahuasca ritual and drinks a psychedelic potion, guided by the local shaman Dona Francisca, who himself is a member of Santo Daime, a syncretic religious movement founded in Brazil in the 1930s. The film, when viewed at length, fuses everything from Catholicism to Spiritism, animism and shamanism, becoming a piece about trust and the human desire to find deeper meanings—both within oneself and the surrounding world.
‘Pardes (Orchard)’ is one of Bartana’s many powerful works, which often combine documentary techniques with the freedom of artistic license to poetically explore alienation and investigate the role of images in spreading ideologies; address patriarchy as a form of control; question the power structures of the world; and challenge binary understandings of gender. Throughout her work, Bartana poses the question of what it means to be human from all angles.