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Neither Day Nor Night

Jerusalem Artists House, 2018

Neither Day Nor Night

Jerusalem Artist House, 2018

Curator: Tali Ben-Nun

In one of the poems of the Haggadah, “It was in the Middle of the Night” (by Yannai, a poet who lived in the Holy Land in the sixth century CE), the final stanza begins with the words: “The day is coming that will be neither day nor night." What is that day, which is neither day nor night? Is it beyond all days, beyond absolute time? Does it hint at an approaching disaster, the End of Days – or does it presage the coming of Redemption or a divine miracle? Such a fragile definition of time and place, loose and unresolved, is also encapsulated in the title of Tal Yerushalmi’s exhibition, “Neither Day Nor Night.” Although the distinction between night and day, between hours of darkness and daytime, is clear and palpable, the transition between them is a gamut of unresolved intermediate states. The paintings in the exhibition are suspended in a liminal space that exists outside the natural order, beyond words and clear, concrete distinctions. They plunge into an infinite intermediate time, trapped between past and future, which does not respond to the temporal units related to the cycles of nature and the movement of the Earth.

In his book The Rose of Jericho, Amos Kenan writes, “Historically, the geography of the land of Israel begins with the Syro-African Rift. Ever since, it has been a narrow corridor between the sea and the desert – a corridor that is seemingly nothing more than a passage.” The geographical location of Jerusalem – perched, as it is, on a high mountain at the cusp of the Judean Desert, with all its archaeological findings – has had a decisive impact on Yerushalmi’s new body of work. Yet these works do not depict a physical place, with a certain historical, political and geographic narrative, but a metaphysical one – a “place” as a concept, underlain by myth and anti-myth. This place/non-place in her paintings is intimately bound up with Israel as a whole: the topography, climate, light, color, textures, history, and archaeology of the Judean Desert are the filters through which the images of the exhibition and its spectrum of colors were formulated. Yerushalmi’s private inventory of images – which explores a host of findings from ancient cultures and functional artifacts identified with traditional crafts – becomes a collective repository of images that links together nature and culture: an image becomes a symbol, a symbol becomes an archetype, an archetype becomes a myth.