You Don't Have To Do A Thing

Video Installation, multiple screens. 2017

03:15 minuets, Loop

The work You Don’t Have To Do a Thing is an inter-religious video experiment conducted in Jerusalem. It includes a series of video portraits of individuals from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, which were at times complex or multi-religious, and were presented on vertical screens.

 

During the process of making the project, I filmed each participant's reactions to identical soundtracks, associated with three different major cultures and religions in Jerusalem today: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. Their mimic, gestures and physical reactions of approval or refusal – a smile, a grin, a frown, a yawn – became a series of distinctive video portraits, which depict the unique set of physical gestures captured during each individual’s session.

 

The videos are displayed on a series of TV screens, allowing a closer and intimate examination of their uncontrolled gestures and reactions, revealing a wide range of feelings such as fear, surprise, enjoyment or discomfort. The screens are synced, thus presenting simultaneous reactions to the same sounds.

 

While many of the participants were not aware that they performed any gestures during the experiment, their visible physical reactions reveal a deeper subconscious layer of their personal experience, a summary of many complex and contradicting thoughts one could not even articulate in words.

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Exhibition at Casula Powerhouse Arts Center, Sydney, Australia. 2018

The Work Process

The work You Don't Have To Do A Thing explores the various reactions that people have to sounds associated with their own as well as others’ cultures and religions.

 

The idea for this artwork was inspired by the reactions I have received to an earlier work that included religious scenes. These diverse dramatic and emotional reactions which I have witnessed led me to consider the extent to which preconceived ideas related to cultures and religions as well as to historical, political and cultural contexts exert their power on our consciousness and drive our emotions and behavior.

 

My work is created at the heart of Jerusalem, a city that is largely defined by its interfaith character. Over the course of two years, I came regularly to the area near Jerusalem’s New Gate, one of the gates leading into the Historical Old City, and asked residents and visitors of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds to participate in my art project. The people who were approached were told that they would be filmed while they listened to sounds, without knowing in advance what these sounds would be.

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People who responded positively were then invited to a nearby studio for individual sessions, during which each person sat alone in a dark space facing a camera. They were told they don't have to do a thing but sit on the chair for a few minutes and listen to an audio track. They were then filmed as recordings of traditional Christian, Muslim, and Jewish prayers played in the background.

The result is a series of distinctive video portraits in a vertical format, which depicts the unique set of bodily gestures captured during each individual’s session. The videos are displayed on a series of TV screens, allowing for a closer and intimate examination of their uncontrolled gestures and reactions, revealing a wide range of feelings such as fear, surprise, approval or rejection.The screens are synced, thus presenting simultaneous reactions to the same sounds. 

 

The participants’ various religious and cultural backgrounds remain unknown to the viewers, allowing for a wide range of interpretations. The spontaneous set of reactions of rejection or approval, which appear in almost every video, create a new common denominator that ties together individuals defined by diverse identities.

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Current exhibition at MUZA Museum, Tel Aviv. September 2021 - September 2022

Short Clips

14 different participants, 1:50 minuets

* Please send me an email in case you wish to see the
full length video simulation of three screens

Exhibitions

2021 - 2022     “FOTOMENTA no 1 - 2021”, MUZA Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel

            2020      Vienna Jewish Film Festival, Vienna, Austria (screening)

            2019     “Jerusalem: A self-Portrait”, Museum On The Seam, Jerusalem

                          “Ceremonies”, FOTOGALERIE WIEN, Vienna, Austria                     

                          “Futures/Intersections”, Photography Symposium, Nida, Lithuania

            2018      Casula Powerhouse Arts Center, Sydney, Australia

            2017      ENCONTROS DA IMAGEM Photography festival, Braga, Portugal

                           Israel Photo Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel

                           LOFT project ETAGI, Saint Petersburg, Russia

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Exhibition at Casula Powerhouse Arts Center, Sydney, Australia. 2018

One-channel video exhibition, FOTOGALERIE WIEN, Vienna, Austria. 2019

Photo by Michael Michlmayr