JERUSALEM — The most recognizable Israeli artwork depicting the Iranian nuclear threat was the cartoon bomb that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drew a red line through at the United Nations in 2012. Now comes Andi Arnovitz, an Orthodox Jewish-feminist painter and printmaker, with a series of collages that are a bit more sophisticated and just as unsettling.
There is “Fordow’s Underground,” a reference to the secret uranium-enrichment plant whose fate has been among the sticking points in negotiations between Iran and six world powers, rendered here from bits of images of Persian carpets as flowers atop machinery operated by men in turbans. “Heavy Water,” as in the plutonium-enabling reactor at Arak, shows angry, mutant fish trapped in a vicious circle. “In Tehran Do They Kiss Their Children Goodnight, Too?” was inspired by the Sting song that mused similarly about the Russians in the Cold War era.
Ms. Arnovitz, who grew up in Kansas City, Mo., and immigrated to Jerusalem in 1999, thought it unwise for Mr. Netanyahu to accept a Republican invitation to speak to Congress in March against the emerging nuclear deal, but she echoes what the prime minister said. As the June 30 deadline for signing a deal approaches, she said she would like to hang her work “on the walls of Congress” and make President Obama “look at this every night before he goes to bed.”
“It’s so much easier to get your message out there with art, because you’re not standing in front of a microphone and banging people over the head,” Ms. Arnovitz said. “Art is quieter, art gets under your skin more.”
Ms. Arnovitz, 55 and a mother of five, began the project more than a year ago, clipping from what she called “the Architectural Digest of the Islamic world,” Hali magazine. She began to see things in the textiles and tapestries on Hali’s pages, disturbing things. She combined the tidbits with watercolor on a new synthetic paper called Yupo, making medallions “in the style of Persian miniatures,” which she described as “lush, colorful,” but which “can also be violent.”
Until June 6, the collection of 33 works — which goes beyond Iran to cover beheadings and book burnings by Islamic extremists — is on display at the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem. They are alluring, even beautiful; unsettling, even shocking.
“13 Boys” has 13 soccer balls (not from Hali) floating among drawings and text — “They run. They play ball.” — from old children’s books. It followed the Islamic State’s killing in January of 13 teenagers in Mosul, Iraq, for watching a soccer match.
“8,000 Books” came after reports in February that the Islamic State had ransacked Mosul’s libraries. Ms. Arnovitz burned her beloved copy of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” a book she had “schlepped all over the world,” using the remains to make the point.
Some of the titles could be agenda items from the nuclear negotiations: “The Centrifuges Are Spinning,” “Fission and Fusion,” “Isfahan Is Very Quiet,” “Making Uranium Ore Concentrate.” Other pieces deal with destruction more broadly: She slashed the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood sign and the White House itself with an X-Acto knife.
Ms. Arnovitz, who has had exhibits in Europe, Canada and the United States, is an obsessive paranoiac with a sense of humor. Two years ago, she showcased “My Worry Beads,” a pile of ceramic orbs engraved with concerns personal and political: weapons of mass destruction and the Taliban, yes, but also bedbugs, bad sex, breast implants.
Her politics are not “yashar,” she said, using the Hebrew word for straight. She supports the peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian state, but last year she had the Oslo Accords printed in Hebrew, Arabic and English on three rolls of toilet paper. In June, a Jerusalem gallery will unveil “Please Stop Talking,” in which she scanned images of world leaders onto silk and sewed their mouths shut.
Mr. Netanyahu is one of those leaders, but Ms. Arnovitz is with him on Iran.
“I guess I share his nightmare scenario,” she said. “Living here, as a Jew, when somebody says we intend to wipe you off the face of the earth, you cannot laugh.”
An earlier version of this article, using information provided by the L.A. Mayer Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem, misstated the closing date of the exhibition of Andi Arnovitz’s works, which has been extended. It will close June 6, not Friday.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
(via NY Times)