Provocative Israeli art explores the fake and fraudulent – but why?

wyse and gabrielyIsraeli photographic duo Wyse + Gabriely concluded their first European exhibition at London’s Neu Gallery this month; an attention-grabbing presentation that purportedly explores “the fake and the fraudulent”. 

The artists depict female subjects with “an impassive force that curdles the blood”, according to reviews. But this exhibition of exhibitionism could instead set blood boiling.

With cultural funding so difficult to come by, it really aggravates to see shock schlock served up as Art.  Take a gander of these images and suffer through the video performance entitled “Spitting” where the women take turns spitting and licking up the spit. Then, dear reader, weigh in with your views.

Photographers Aviya Wyse and Yaeli Gabriely are recent graduates from Israel’s WIZO Academy. Named as American Israel Foundation Scholars of 2013, their work is both individual and connected.

wyse and gabrielyWyse serves her message straight up, using traditional darkroom techniques to produce stark black and white photos. Her subjects are strangers she encounters who agree to pose, often in contorted poses or states of undress (images above and below).

She told Hunger TV, “I approach women, most of them unfamiliar to me, wherever they meet my eye; on the bus, on the street, in a cafe. Then, I ask them if they would be willing to model for me, usually they agree. Next, I come over to their homes and the encounter begins.”

wyse + gabriely

Gabriely elects to be her own model in startling images (lead picture and below) that are reminiscent of fashion and advertising photography, but then jolt the viewer on closer inspection.

She conducts experiments with her own body, with results ranging from comical to horrific. The artist uses a complex digital technique, taking a series of pictures which she then grafts together to form a singular portrait.

Wyse + Gabriely

“During a photo session I never shoot the final image as it is; I take lots of frames, each is only a fragment to be used later as a part of the final image. The characters appearing in my work are a wild combination of different body parts: a head from one frame is joined to a leg and a hand from another, a body posture of one to a gaze of another. This process intensifies the de-familiarization of the final image, which becomes even more artificial and fake”, she told Hunger TV.

wyse and gabriely The duo says that the world does not really “exist” in the way we are used to thinking about it. They believe that when the world was created “it was a pure act of what quantum mechanics teaches us – the observer. A conscious watchfulness, not a real world.”

“This dream, or this matrix, we believe exists only in the mind. So in that sense it is fake and it is real at the same time, in the same way like waking up from a dream and saying – what was that?! We can’t say it happened and we can’t say it didn’t,” they said, again in a Hunger TV interview.

What are they talking about?

wyse and gabriely“Something happens before the camera shoots. Working with myself is an act where only I am present. Only I experience. When the camera captures what it captures it becomes something else. The photo is almost like a byproduct,” said Gabriely, “I see myself a bit like a performance artist whose performances take place with no audience, and only the camera as witness.”

Creating these “byproducts” may be interesting exercises for the pair, but perhaps best exhibited where only the artists are present, with no audience beyond themselves. The same can be said for much of what’s uploaded on YouTube or Instagram.

Ironically, I broadcast their works to you here.

Weigh in – is this art? Or is everything that incites public curiosity worthy of a gallery stint?

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6 thoughts on “Provocative Israeli art explores the fake and fraudulent – but why?”

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  3. Hi, I’m the curator of the exhibition and have just come across this review. The corollary of what you’ve written seems to be that anything provocative can not and should not exist as art? Your article seems to imply that even images of the nude female are provocative, which seems deeply sexist to me. You engage with neither the concept nor the technique of the work in this rehashing of random quotes from my own article and others – for the purpose of deriding something which took two very young months of work.

  4. NuKu says:

    you only talk about the content which is provoking etc., but u didnt mention a word about the visual= the works themselves. these are some truly beautiful photographs. the content is provoking of course but its certainly not only that. if it was a provocative work that does nothing but to provoke it would be one thing, but there are some really great stuff going on there. its about advertising and body image and perceptions of femininity in our culture and about whats real and fake (like they mentioned) both physically and mentally. to me.

    1. Great feedback. We were just curious as to why the content had to be so provocative.

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