Global Feminisms: Sigalit Landau

Uploaded by BrooklynMuseum on 28.04.2010

I want to say, first of all, thank you to Elizabeth Sackler and to the Brooklyn Museum
for this opportunity. I am happy to be in New York. I could only dream of showing my
work in a context I am honored to be part of.
As an exchange student for one semester at the Cooper Union in 1994, I was introduced
to feminism mainly in "Bad Girls" and "Very Bad Girls" shows in the New Museum that year.
For me, feminism is a constantly invigorating, sometimes subversive starting point. A well-lit
ground. A starting point that was marked by the work of women who changed the world of
art in the last 30 years. 30.
I am going to talk today about the significance of place in how I conceptualize my work and
in the way I think within my installations projects. I will try and describe to you the
way I create a place where an encounter of the viewer and my experience is made possible.
So, the first work you already can see. Do you hear me?
This is called "Resident Alien." It was shown in the 1997 "Documenta X, " in Kassel. What
you see here is a cargo container. A standard six meters where I changed the floor, which
is normally from either sheet metal or wood.
I took a sheet of metal and hammered it with an oxyacetylene, with a lot of heat, and deformed
the floor into sort of an imprint of another place.
So this work is exterritorial. It is a non-place because it can move easily from one location
to the next, and this is not dependent on a site, inside a gallery, or inside a museum.
Wherever I exhibited it, it stayed outside.
This is another angle where you can see it's quite laborious work with the heat. In the
smaller box there, there's a smaller container. There is sort of a lit space and a radio playing.
If one wanted to, I just wanted to show you when you are in the box, your head is coming
out of the hole of a -- we call a Turkish, an Eastern toilet; something that you will
see more in the East, more in the army.
This is just another work that has nothing to do with it. So there's really a head container
inside of a product container.
In order to deform the metal, I needed to heat a hammer and use another hammer -- a
cold hammer -- to actually hit this red metal and so part of the process came into the work
because I just exhibited also my work tools in the other side of this hill.
Loud enough? Yeah? OK.
This is the evening before I shot the video on the beach at Tel Aviv. This work called
"Barbed Hula" is shown here.
In "Global Feminism," this sort of dress rehearsal, in which I was dressed as well, not like on
the beach the next morning. I performed it. I practiced on a roof in South Tel Aviv.
I still live in the same neighborhood, by the way, and it's about a certain -- also
if the container is a non-place then this is a very small place. It's 90 centimeters
diameter with sort of a border with a centrifugal force.
I am always in contact with this barbed wire. If you look carefully, you see the barbs are
turned outwards so I am not being wounded or shredded or whatever Roberta Smith wrote
in the New York Times.
It's actually more dangerous to come near me and something that cannot be accessed
-- this body. I think I was without clothes at 5 in the morning on the next morning where
I shot the video and I think it's normal to take off your clothes.
Otherwise I started the issue of why do I wear this or why do I wrap myself in this
bubble wrap, but you can decide. I'm not showing the video right here.
This is another territory. Three meters diameter. I made a large hula hoop and I am posing to
sort of the -- being one woman inside the "Barbed Hula." This is a group attempt at
mastering this Hula dance with a bigger territory. It's like the task of a people, of a group,
or a collaboration, a corporation -- cooperation as well.
This is a small land, a small mountain taken from a ready-made scale that I cast in gold.
I inverted one of the sides of this scale and turned it into a small island of -- or
a small deformed mountain in the same technique of the container.
It's the same sort of -- actually this is the sort of absurd situation where the work,
the inversion, the deformation, the heat, it changed nothing in the reality of the physics
of this tool. That of course stands for justice or tries to make justice shown, or justice
in place.
Well there's another music box in the -- around us now, I was making -- this was a
study for another project that followed the container and it was a different sort of container,
a concrete mixer.
I was turning into a concrete mixer, turned into a music box, turned into an ice cream
van. This is one of the end results. I did this show in many locations in Europe, also
in New York. I borrowed the logo of the European Union.
I added forks underneath this truck, and it was a work I thought of -- an apropos place.
It came when I was living in England and trying to decode the system of how to reach an audience
without being part of a -- the class system. The system of the galleries. The system of
the museums. The heaviness of an art world.
I proposed to make a project that first, the public hears music, then sees this sound object,
this vehicle, and then I wanted to serve the audience with a story, a simple story that
you don't -- it's the fairy tale, actually. So these are just to show you.
This is a mold of an icicle, or popsicle -- I don't know how you say it in American
-- ice lollies? It was an ice lolly in the form of a frozen girl. This story was on the
wrapper which was sort of a body bag for this archaeological finding.
In September 1998, the remains of a frozen vagrant were found at a building site in...
in the city... Archaeological analysis of the small corpse provided scientific proof
that the Little Matchstick Girl from Hans Christian Andersen's tale truly did exist.
The child was nicknamed Ola -- this means foreskin in Hebrew -- aged about five, must
have been trying to keep herself warm by lighting matches that she was supposed to sell. As
the city celebrated Christmas Eve, she froze to death and was preserved under an urban
avalanche. Originating -
So it was referring to the time I lived in Berlin and there was a moment in '98 where
they found a very ancient Homo sapiens frozen between Italy and Austria and there was many
details about his life.
Anyway, ice preserved this girl who actually -- I remembered from my childhood this fairy
tale where for a change it was the girl who was a protagonist, but she didn't make use
of what she had. It was matches and she could have warmed herself. Instead of warming herself
with the matches, she was supposed to sell them before coming -- she had no mother.
Her father said "Sell them or don't come back home." She lit them and she imagined, she
started fantasizing about house, about food, about things that are most important. Then
she saw her grandmother in heaven, and she froze, and she joined her grandmother, and
she was very beautiful. Found in the morning.
I did a performance of just giving this story and giving this ice lolly and I was being
the opposite of her. She was supposed to sell matches, my task was to distribute for free,
ice lollies -- meaning her end was to freeze, and my end was to ---oh, three minutes --
would be to probably burn. My destiny.
I'm going to go really fast -- three minutes is not long -- this is a project in New York
City. Thread Waxing Space. The last show exhibited there, Curator Lia Gangitano, and I did the
big crater full of sugar.
This was the idea behind it. Thatching sugar from clouds into thin walls and making an
utopist society that can translate this love or empty energy into a real place. This is
the Sahara Desert. This is me working. This is my lover who had through his sweat made
this substance, transformed it.
It's a very nervous -- what do you call it -- material that transforms wonderfully,
this sugar, from light pink and airy it dissolves into concentrated red, bloody. This is a whole
project which we are not going to talk about that I made from newspapers. I'm just ending
this lecture.
I meant you to talk to me as we go along, but maybe we have even one minute left for
questions. Two pieces I made when we were in Cooper Union, both of them I think the
most verbally -- I had to present them as feminist because they were.
This was influenced by Harold Gilligan's writings about entering the wall in a traumatic way,
there was a chapter about entering patriarchy and entering the wall. Entering traumatically.
I had to give in a work and finish the semester one piece. I had money for one little package
of -- Fimo it's called.
I made this swimmer and entered the wall with her and then, I did a -- they said it was
a performance, I showed Hans... how I was milking a bull. You don't see this in the
photo. Many, many catalogs of the names and the qualities of different kind of sperm.
But, the milking machine was made out of -- it was just a milking machine for female
cows, not for bulls.
OK, just to show you what salt can do. This is the lowest place of the world where I started
working with the salt, just last year, so that's it for now. If you want to talk a little
something, I know, there's no questions usually. All is clear, like they say in German. Sorry
that it was so short. Thank you.