Michal Rovner’s (b. 1957, Israel) work in video, sculpture, drawing, sound, and installation reflects on the continuum of human experience. Her work defines an evocative language of abstraction, dealing with themes such as time, history, and science. While generally avoiding specific issues or events, Rovner’s work shifts between the poetic and the political, and between current time and historical memory, to explore questions of nature, identity, dislocation, and the fragility of human existence.
She has been exhibited in over 60 solo exhibitions including a mid-career retrospective at the Whitney Museum of Art, the Israeli Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the Jeu de Paume, and the Louvre. In 2006, Rovner began a series of monumental structures titled “Makom” (Place), using stones from dismantled or destroyed Israeli and Palestinian houses from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Haifa, the Galilee, and the border of Israel and Syria. She worked with Israeli and Palestinian masons to construct new spaces encompassing history, memory, and time. In 2013, Rovner created the installation “Traces of Life” at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum devoted to the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the Shoah. In 2018, Celebrating Israel’s 70th Anniversary: Michal Rovner and Tal Shochat was exhibited at Nevada Museum of Art.
Pace Gallery is pleased to present its ﬁrst solo exhibition in Palo Alto dedicated to the work of pioneering artist Michal Rovner. On view at 229 Hamilton Ave. from March 9 through May 13, 2018 with an opening reception for the artist on Thursday, March 8, from 4 - 7 p.m., Evolution features videos and prints that mark a return to Rovner’s unique, abstracted language. The exhibition also follows Pace Gallery’s presentation at Photofairs 2018, featuring Rovner’s video and photography work.
Rovner’s last exhibition at Pace in New York in 2016, Night, featured images of jackals from encounters in dark ﬁelds. Her encounters with darkness generate nocturnal images, capturing moments that are immersed in shadows. The works reverberate an unfamiliar dimension, a sense of fear and alertness, primal powers and the night within us. A central part of Evolution is a powerful video work Nilus (2018)—a nocturnal silhouette of a jackal, stretched across two screens, as across two pages of a book, whose space is ﬁlled with dense lines of miniature human ﬁgures. The unique nocturnal light, something in the shape of the vigilant animal, possibly exposed to danger, the glimmer of its hollow eyes in which human ﬁgures appear occasionally to be reﬂected – all of these elements along with the dense lines of the ﬂickering “text,” create a disturbing feeling that something is amiss, perhaps the creature is artiﬁcial, maybe a cloned jackal, maybe a hybrid. Duality and duplication recur across several aspects of this work, and are especially prominent in the double movement: the sporadic movement of the jackal, and the repetitive movement of the human ﬁgures, which appear to be marking themselves, or signaling, or calling out for help.
In her return to her language of abstraction, which consists of duplicated patterns of human movements, Rovner has intensiﬁed this language. The human ﬁgures have lost basic contours, to the point that their humanity is sometimes hard to identify; gone are the landscapes in which the ﬁgures move; the movement itself, which apparently repeats itself, has become more wild; the lines, structures and patterns change more rapidly; ﬂorescent-like red ﬂashes appear, that call to mind the emergency, danger and alarm lights that permeate our world.
Across the works in the exhibition, Rovner presents us with the evolution of these hieroglyphic-like, narrative-less “texts.” At ﬁrst they are much more representative, clearer, relatively stable; then they become more rapid, ﬂeeting, hard to grasp, ambiguous, alluding to the intensity and communication overload of a reality that allows us to see everything, from the electronic innards of a computer to brain synapses, a reality of barcodes, control panels, matrix charts, microchips, and the like. While the lines of text still invariably feature human ﬁgures, human signs and gestures; reading them is becoming harder and harder. In the end, only the writing remains, as a signiﬁer without the signiﬁed, striving to be seen, to sparkle, ﬂash, stand out, as if the ultimate representation of human consciousness is signaling for help.