This site-specific installation simulates an infinite library, at once private and collective, containing objects created specially for this show by Uri Katzenstein (Tel Aviv, 1951–2018) alongside existing works from different periods in his career. The installation consists of video works documenting rituals in a futuristic world, narcissistic sculptures modelled after the artist’s own figure and autobiographical objects and cultural icons that have undergone an imaginary evolution. These are joined by the sound and movement of sound machines built by the artist.

The Institute of Ongoing Things is a continuation of the artist’s confrontation of personal and national traumas, as well as his engagement with historical events that shape his political identity. It also raises issues relating to the museum’s function in preserving memory and its role in shaping personal identity and communal affiliation.

Like the museum, which is based on a collection relating to Jewish culture, Katzenstein’s library is based on a collection that explores the artist’s self-image. It also probes his culturally and politically explosive surroundings. Like the museum, this exhibition addresses memories of the past and visions of the future.

Israel’s seventieth anniversary presents a good opportunity for self-scrutiny and soul searching. Alongside pride in the country’s achievements and successes, there is a growing threat to freedom of expression and artistic creation and the constant fear of violence. Katzenstein, known for his boundary-pushing, taboo-breaking art, presents a universal work that responds to this complex reality with a personal mix of pain and humour.

Believing that art has therapeutic power, Katzenstein introduces a critical, thought-provoking stance, proposing a future that is simultaneously imaginary and logical. The artist is the prophet of our time, who looks backward and forward, mediating between the immorality and maliciousness of the past and present, and a possible rectification in the future.

Uri Katzenstein passed away unexpectedly during the final preparations of the exhibition.

Ronit Eden
Guest curator