Curated by Hagar Bril
18th May – 19th June 2019
Omer Tiroche Gallery is proud to present Pretty/Silent, a solo exhibition by Yael Barlev, curated by Hagar Bril. With her new body of work, Barlev incorporates objects and materials that are typically associated with happy childhood innocence, such as dolls, embroidery and storybook illustrations. Barlev reworks these items into nightmarish installations as a reference to deceiving childhood memories, collective fears and suppressed traumas. The title of the exhibition Pretty/Silent, originates from a commonly known Hebrew proverb with which the artist grew up that translates as, “some things are prettier left unsaid.” Pretty/Silentsummarises the concept that the truth can be ugly and frightening; Barlev’s site-specific installations lead the viewer into a terrifying manifestation of the consequences of unaddressed fears. All the works in the exhibition are purposefully left untitled, highlighting the notion that unpleasantries are not to be acknowledged but rejected.
As the viewer enters the exhibition, they are surrounded by ambiguous forms hanging from the ceiling, cocooned by delicate layers of parchment paperand bathed in illustrations and embroidery. At first glance they appear to be seemingly innocent, but upon closer inspection the haunting silhouettes of children isolated amongst eerie overgrown landscapes becomes apparent. The use of delicate embroidery is in stark contrast tothe terrifying collection of dolls that have been defaced and mutilated, hanging at eye level, directly confronting them. Each doll has suffered various vicious alterations; one has grown eight legs like a spider; another’s soft silky hair has been replaced with rusty nails; and a further doll has large red stitches covering her entire abdomen, like a huge scar, whilst red threads stream from her eyes.
Barlev’s use of dolls evokes Sigmund Freud’s essay The Uncanny (1919), which defines the notion that something – dolls and waxworks in particular – can be frightening yet familiar. In this exhibition, the uncanniness is highlighted by the fact that a doll’s shape is modelled on the human body. This may lead the viewer to associate themselves with Barlev’s tortured models and project their own bodies into the mutilation
The recurring motifs of familiarity, deception and fear can be found throughout the exhibition in different mediums, some of which are personal items from Barlev’s own childhood. She believes, however, that the horror and anxiety of suppressedtraumasare a universal experience, and one that should be collectively addressed.
Yael Barlev, lives and works in Karmiel, Israel. She holds a graduate diploma in arts from Western Galilee College and a post-graduate diploma in arts from Oranim Academic College. Barlev is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores themes such as gender and identity. Barlev has exhibited in both group exhibition throughout Israel, most recently at The Municipal Gallery of Rishon Lezion (2017), The Municipal Gallery of Ra’anana (2015, 2012) and has had solo exhibition at The Edge Center Gallery in Nahariya (2013) and The Kibbutz Mahanaim Gallery (2011).