TO RIDE IT OUT is a concept taken from the marine world. It refers to the state of a storm that swings the ship over the stormy sea, which in turn means taking all necessary steps in order to make it out of the storm unscathed. Sailors must adapt themselves to the changing state of the sea—slowing the sailing speed, changing direction as needed, and maintaining stability of the vessel until the storm has passed. A lack of response to the changing conditions could end in disaster: the only way to overcome the crisis is to allow it to occur and to navigate through it until the sea returns to a calm state.
The sea is always involved in Talia Yemini’s body of works. Her father was a captain in the Merchant Navy, and her childhood was spent on many voyages in his company. On one hand, ships became a sort of second and temporary home for her, while on the other, her father’s long absences made the concept of the home seem unstable, an environment subject to constant shifts and changing relationships. Yemini’s biographic background is at the basis of her work, and her works are inspired by marine elements - ropes, ships, navigation maps, and radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging). These marine objects and the spatial relation between them express to Yemini her ongoing search for a place in the world. Her various objects, drawings, and sketches all deal with questions of space perception, which has occupied her since childhood.
Yemini sees the sea as a profound metaphor for human existence: the storms, the waves, and the unexpected dangers, but also sailing on quiet seas, new discoveries and anchoring on the shore; all metaphors for different points and events in the life of a person. The inability to predict the future, incidental events occurring without warning, and the need to deal with these crises are translated into exhibitions depicting floating, unstable environments. In her creative process, Yemini always take the deployment of objects in a given space into consideration: Her exhibitions are built in a way which requires the viewers to navigate within it, to choose a course and to make decisions about the way in which they move in the space, as if they were sailing their ship at sea.
In the center of Yemini’s previous works were marine navigation maps which were no longer in use. At times, she added black and blurred brush strokes to the maps, adding texture and movement to the existing image; sometimes she covered large portions of the map with solid black patches that emphasized the outline where the land and the sea met. In these works, Yemini created a new mapping of the world’s image: the covering of the maps organized and rearranged the maritime space, thereby creating new continents, which constituted a kind of picturesque haven for her.
In this exhibition, Yemini returns to the form of work that characterized her beginning as an artist—sculptural installation work. Now the dark spots painted on the map become a three-dimensional environment composed of massive black continents of varying sizes. Their matte black color is reminiscent of petrification, they are grounded; fixed; too heavy to bear. Their dense, intense texture reveals the impending storm- unlike the painted continents, these continents are no longer arranged areas of stability. On the contrary, their considerable materiality disturbs us. They present the possibility of the future chaos, the unease in every corner, the storm after the silence.
We, as viewers, are forced ‘to Ride it Out’—to accommodate ourselves and to navigate our way through the black continents, between the dark shapes and in the spaces which exist between them.
The installation that unfolds in the gallery exposes us to another difficulty because it disrupts our sense of scale: at first glance, it seems that we are sailing through a cluster of sandbars that surround us. This is an understandable and a human scale - we experience the black islands in relation to our own bodies, a black and rocky mass that steers our way through space. But we can experience them differently: in a sense, we can imagine ourselves watching these island from a distance, as if we were standing on the deck of a ship sailing in the sea. Thus, the great sandbars become the ends of distant continents, the island scattered around us, reduced by distance. In addition to these two options there is a third scale, which is obtained from looking at the small wooden ships scattered around the black continents. Once we see the ships, the proportions are reversed: our scale is no longer human, and the ship that is supposed to overshadow us in size becomes a reduced model, an almost helpless object at our feet. The image that is being created before our very eyes is from the radar’s point of view, as if we were watching this black landscape from a high vantage point and great distance. The faulty scales create a shaky landscape: they undermine our sense of place, subvert the image of the space that crystallizes in our perception and create an unstable, restless environment.
The role of the radar is critical to the conduct in the space—through the image obtained on the display screen, we can identify the landscape and the presence of other vessels in the area, thus helping us navigate, pave the way, and prevent collisions. Looking at the exhibition as a departure from the radar image turns the experience of wandering in the gallery into an experience of conscious and informed choice: every passage we choose to walk will change our point of view on the exhibition. Every angle at which we choose to stand, each step we take to bring us closer or farther will change our spatial perception within the given space. The different sizes and the way the works are placed, create for us an environment that is homogeneous, clear, and orderly on one hand; but on the other—as disrupted as the sea itself: seemingly uniform and familiar but in actuality quite unstable, unexpected, never-ending.
In dealing with the attempt to find balance within the storm of life and the sea, the decisive factor in Yemini’s perception of space is the floor - the surface on which we stand and on which we walk will determine whether we can balance ourselves. The gallery floor becomes, in a sense, both the radar image, the sea itself, and the image of the state of our lives: can we walk among the factors that determine our path? Is one way better than another? Are we able to solve the tension, the faults, the crises, and ultimately stand on solid ground?
In the small room at the Gallery’s entrance, Yemini hung a series of sea sponges painted black. These are natural sponges which come from a depth of between 20-50 meters. Sponges come in a variety of shapes, they are random and uncontrollable as they evolve in their natural environment. By painting them black, Yemini attempts to bring them into a unified framework, to subject them to some kind of inner logic, and to create some type of human order out of their chaotic nature. However, as their shape does not change, they remain true to their nature despite their new uniform black color. This is a concise example of our attempt to achieve balance, both in the gallery space and in life itself. Before we navigate the exhibition space, the sponges already embody the marine insight: we may have no way around the obstacles and no way to stop the changes. We have no choice but to adapt ourselves to the situation, just like in the sea itself.