Posted by Micha Keynan
MATKOT TEL AVIV - BERLIN
“Man is the mold of his homeland” so wrote the well known Israeli poet Saul Tchernichovsky.
This is the narrative that a group of Israeli artists is grappling with. They received a pair of Matkot (beach
paddle ball rackets) – material, shape and an Israeli brand - as the medium for an exhibit in Berlin.
Matkot, by definition, is a “collaborative game for two participants or more”. The goal of the game is to hit
a small rubber ball with a round wooden racket between the players as long as possible without dropping
it. There is no loser or winner in the game. The game is played primarily
along the beach or at other vacation destinations with water activities.
The ultimate conditions exist in Israel: miles of beautiful beaches and great warm weather where people
like to enjoy themselves. All the right reasons to turn the game into a national pastime and an Israeli icon.
The shape of the racket is round wood plank with a “bottle neck” shaped handle. The raw wood provides a
sense of nakedness and vulnerability.
The location of the exhibit is Berlin, the world’s center for contemporary art today, challenged the artists
with its Jewish history. The artists, in their own way, are developing a dialog with the material and the idea,
with the past and the future, with the “here” and the “there”, and above all with the present, with the being
in the “now”. The artists are struggling with anguish as they create their artwork from their inner being
while trying to bridge the contrast that the Matkot game symbolizes in the “give and take” between people.
We, the viewers, are privileged to join each artist in his/her own journey.
Some of the artists emphasized the material – took it apart and assembled, cut and added and created a
new world. Others put an emphasis on the idea that they want to communicate, form the environment to
politics, from the pastoral to the upcoming storms and the painful crash. Some artists expanded the horizon
into other countries and worlds including the dark inner worlds of man, his fears and desires.
The differences in culture, nationality, religion, color and gender all disappear when we engage in visual art.
The art bridges all, overcomes objections, and is free from all borders.
The artists united in a wonderful collaborative effort around a single idea and proved, as always, that its
sum is greater than its parts.
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