In Dance (2014, 10:04 min), a young woman is seen dancing alone in a large room with natural sunlight. Wearing a simple dress with a mask on her face, she dances to a Maurice Ravel piano concerto. Her movements are confined, emphasizing the intuitive internal quality of her dance; a visualization of a soliloquy. The film is one-shot of a hand-held camera and lasts the duration of both the roll of film and the musical piece.
Where Meaning Lies
As long as I create I am looking for meaning, and this, in fact, is the meaning of life to me.
(Amit Berlowitz, in conversation, 2016)
Questions of meaning and significance rise naturally before Amit Berlowitz’s latest body of works. Building her latest photographic series on Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, where the existential question of meaning lies at the heart of the play, suggests these issues are at the center of her artistic preoccupation.
Like Beckett, Berlowitz isolates fragments of reality in her film and photography works. She arranges encounters between groups of children or youths, choreographs body gestures and stages specific emotional climates, all set in beautiful scenographies of wild nature. These scenographies are actually concrete places with names, geographic positions, particular histories and - unknown futures.
Youth was shot on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. Flags - on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Dummy - on Mount Carmel. Dance was filmed in the International Dance Village in Kibbutz Ga’aton, established by late Yehudit Arnon. Arnon arrived in Israel, then Palestine, in 1948, after surviving the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau where she discovered dance as her vocation. There, in the concentration camp, between life and death, she vowed to devote her life to dance if she manages to survive. And so she did.
Objects too remember. The children’s costumes in Godot were sewn from historical fabrics and outfits designed by late Israeli fashion designer Roji Ben Yosef. Ben Yosef manufactured her designs in the West Bank, Hebron and Gaza, as a testimony to the possibility of peace between Arabs and Jews in this troubled region, which has a long history of conflict between people.
In the darkness of uncertainty regarding the present or the future, Berlowitz’s films and photographs shine softly with sincerity, simplicity, and beauty. They convey hope. Berlowitz manages to portray the primordial and the natural in people - girls and boys, young men and young women, and in nature. A reminder of the almost forgotten liaisons between one and self, between one and friend, between one and the environment one lives in. She suggests these little pieces of reality as sites of meaning: when a night ends - the sun rises, an intimate moment among adolescents unfolds familiarity and strangeness at one and the same time; a young girl improvises a free set of movements. When the music ends, the dance ends, the mask is removed. This is the face of things. No less no more. This is the locus of beauty, where meaning lies.
In a children's game, at the end of a day, the sun sets and a white flag is raised. And at the end of yet another day - we stand where we are, upon our set of reality, in our surroundings, among our friends and neighbors. We are part of nature, and nature like nature, is complex: universalities and specificities, multiplicities and singularities, beginnings and endings. And another beginning and another ending. And this is where beauty lies. And this is where meaning lies, and motivation, clear and pure. Three, four... Three, four... Three, four...