“The Drive is toward unhooking from who you are while simultaneously becoming only yourself.
Some people can sleep with their eyes open.
What does it do, this process of constantly discovering yourself?“
This Multimedia Installation exhibition is an expression of the artists’ uniquely parallel upbringing. Through an exploration of the material and ethereal – object, science, light, photography – we are asked to investigate identity, heritage, boundary and history.
BAR MAYER is a multimedia artist Based in Jerusalem. She grew up in an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community that she left eighteen years ago. STELLA MERIS is a German/Swiss video artist with a fundamental Christian background based within a long history of a Templar family that settled in Haifa . She left her community about ten years ago.
A core element to this artists’ dialogue is their exploration of power structures and controlling mechanisms within fundamentalist religious communities.
How is a system of values that divides all people in “good” and “bad” imposed? How do the religious leaders manifest their authority?
What do rituals, actions and speeches say about these isolated societies?
The religious communities Bar and Stella grew up in promoted their belief to be the only true way of living, and therefore a critical reflection about the absolute rightness of their views was utterly out of question. The often degrading ideas about non-Jewish, respectively non-Christian people were propagated by religious fundamentalism. In an artistic dialogue, the two artists explore similarities in power structures and mechanisms within such groups. How is a system of values that divides all people in “good” and “bad” imposed? How do the religious leaders manifest their authority? What rituals, actions and speeches were popular in the religious circles?
Bar and Stella both observed an attitude towards “the other”, the non-believers, that was picturing them as people who are “lacking something”, as people who either needed to be educated or avoided. A binary opposition which decried all non-Christian/non-Jewish cultures as incomplete was imposed, in order to define their own identity as superior and to gain power over the other.
The artists question the effect that religious ideology had on their own identity. Moving from a religious family background to a non-religious lifestyle shows similarities to an actual, physical migration. This raises the question “where meaningful knowledge is located.” Feeling torn between completely different value systems and cultural codes makes it impossible to express the answer to this question “in the terms of one regime or the other”. Finding oneself in between the religious and the non-religious culture is on the one hand confusing and challenging, as one lacks a language that could describe this place. There is an interesting potential in this unknown space. Bar and Stella meet each other there.
Stella Meris (b.1990) is a Swiss and German video artist researching history, religion and displacement. She’s born 1990 in Basel, Switzerland and since 2012 living and working in Berlin. Since 2013 she studies Fine Arts at UDK, Berlin. She also studied Fine Arts department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.
Bar Mayer (b.1983) works and lives in Jerusalem. Her practice involves photo installation and film, in which she explore themes of boundaries and identity, reflecting her background. 18 years ago, in a swift move, she decided to separate herself from them in order to establish the life she wanted for herself. She also studied Fine Arts department at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.