Yael Bartana / The Undertakers

Jan 30 – May 31, 2020

Sommer Contemporary Art is pleased to announce the opening of Yael Bartana’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. While primarily known as a video artist, in recent years the artist has been expanding her body of work with performances, sculptures and prints. In her extensive projects, Bartana explores collective identity, ceremonies and public rituals and creates fictional realities that offer an alternative to existing narratives.


Bartana’s new video installation features the film “The Undertaker” (2019), presented for the first time in Israel, together with life-sized prints and objects that refer back to the film. The artist’s latest film follows her performance “Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies!” (2018), in which the artist staged a public funeral of weapons in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American democracy, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were formulated and signed.


In “The Undertaker,” an armed procession is led through historical locations in the city center of Philadelphia, finally arriving to Laurel Hill cemetery to perform a symbolic burial ritual of various weapons from different times. The performance incorporates elements from a 1953 choreography by the Israeli movement-composer Noa Eshkol (1924-2007).


Alongside the film, Bartana presents prints portraying the masked figures who disposed of the weapons and a series of ostensibly fossilized weapons which are displayed on pedestals, simulating artefacts that were unearthed in a faraway future. The exhibition also features a neon work titled “Patriarchy is History,” that further establishes Bartana’s practice of re-evaluating predominant social structures.


Yael Bartana (b. 1970, Kfar Yehezkel, Israel) lives and works in Amsterdam and Berlin. Yael Bartana has had solo exhibitions in numerous venues, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (2018); the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne (2017); the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2014), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek (2012) and Sommer Contemporary Art (2010). Her work has been shown in the 31st Sao Paulo Biennial (2014), 7th Berlin Biennale (2012) and 54th Venice Biennale (Polish Pavilion, 2011). A comprehensive solo exhibition of her work will be held at the Jewish Museum, Berlin in September 2020.



Culture Agent, TV show, 7.2.20 (Hebrew)

 Hagit Peleg Rotem, Portfolio magazine,  13.2.20 (Hebrew)

Joy Bernard, Haaretz.com, 6.3.20 (English)