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  1. ANISA ASHAKAR • About then years ago Anisa Ashkar chose to turn her face and the body into a canvas and her art into body into a work of art that goes everywhere she does. In fact the specific artistic act which has become identified with her represents a protest to the Islamic "thou shalt not" command, and at the same time what she creates every morning is a mask; a kind of daring and perhaps rebellious persona; in her religion and in her tradition the assignation of a traditional role to women in society is a provocation, in her case it least.

  2. A TRIBUTE TO VAN GOGH • “بلون رجوعك  برموشي بخيوط اشعة الشمس الذهبية” “I color your return with my eyelashes, with the golden beams of the sun” I thought of making ‘a tribute to Van Gogh’ on summer 2005. In wearing a flower in my hair, I chose a symbolic act encoded in our culture, bearing a decorative and esthetic meaning, along side seductive, romantic and sexual meanings. replacing a delicate soft floral decoration with a Sunflower changed not only the seducer but also his addressee. Daydreaming has been replaced with a sweat hallucination caused by the heat of the sun. A potential lover isn’t trying to seduce the painter but lure him to make art. While the artist searches for the Muses, the Muses await to be found.

  3. AGRIA MATRIA • It is time to come, I, who is coming soon. The sleep and the death are one. • “لقدحانالموعد اني اتية لقريبا فان النوم والموت واحد”  • The series ‘Agria Matia’ was created in 2006 and first exhibited in January 2007 in Athens Greece. It was thought of and created during my research on Medusa Gorgona, the mythological heroine, that was the inspiration for my performance ‘In a twinkle of an eye’. The name Agria Matia is in ancient greek and its meaning is Wild Eyes. The text written on my face means: “It is time to come, I ,who is coming soon. The sleep and the death are one.” These two sentences are a poetic representation of my Medusa, I had them written on my face during the performance. In this text I summon death, and as an enchantment it helped me get into character for the performance

  4. IN THE BLINK OF THE EYE • Ashkar has been captivated by the myth of Medusa, the terrifying monster. In the exhibition titled In a Twinkling of an eye  she will enact a dramatic performance dedicated to Medusa. The performance includes a man – a muscular dancer representing Perseus, the Greek hero who overcame the lethal monster. Ashkar and the dancer will jointly enact her own interpretation of the figure of Medusa, with which she says she is strongly identified. What characteristics does she identify with? Who is Medusa according to Ashkar? It seems that once again Ashkar has taken the liberty to interpret and to provoke; Medusa, according to her understanding, was a smart, proud and invincible woman. She could not have been killed unless she had decided to allow it, to end her life at a moment of her own choosing. Perseus, according to Ashkar, was merely the victim chosen by Athena to perform this act. Perseus, according to Ashkar, is a presentation of Medusa who is in a tragic conflict with her wild side; confronting her strong emotions. The struggle with Perseus is choreographed like an erotic dance of monstrous forces, taking place on a stage; while Athena is sitting in an armchair, her eyes are covered, and she is singing a song of love and lonesomeness as if she has nothing to do with the struggle; Athena can’t admit her motives. Athena is also another representation of medusa. • See vidio "blink of an eye" here

  5. AL’ADHAM • El Adham – Dark Horse in a White HouseWinter of 2008, the time that the Israeli-Arab artist Anisa Ashakar presented her performance piece El Adham – Arabic for Black Horse – and the end of November of the same year, White House, the bastion of the largest world power will be waiting the arrival of the new elected president, the black senator Barack Hussein Obama?The exhibition El Adham  presents “docu-traces”, remnants form her charged performance of the same name: a video that functions as a the visual “document” of the original piece; a photograph that captures the intense physical contact – perhaps a hug or maybe a grip – between Ashkar and the “horse” (Dusseldorf ballet dancer and choreographer, John Hill), in a moment when power, libido and fury intertwine; and the special objects of the performance, ( the milk pail is a constant presence in her performances). Rather than showcasing the “expected” whip and riding cap, Ashkar chose to exhibit an accessory that suppose to adorn the horse, in an act that positions her when she is “expected” to be: even when she is the lady f the house, toying with the symbols of status and high culture, she is closer to nature and the horse. The repetitive attempts to scrub the horse, and whiten it, end up only emphasizing the link between the horse and its rider, according to the twisted criterions of skin-color and race. The milk splashes on both of them, drips from his skin, and soaks into her black dress, but to no avail. When the drama is over, and beyond all the connotations, sexual and others, by white-washing the scene and its participants, Ashkar emphasizes the fact, that for many, still, beyond and under it all, they, she and the horse, are black.

  6. ME AND PAUL KLEE PAINT • The photograph is documenting the final stage of a performance Anisa Ashkar made in 2004. The performance has taken place on a staircase leading to a library,  and denotes the importance of a chosen location in understanding my works.” As the performance began, I tried to explain Art to a sparrow (Dror in Hebrew which means freedom). Later on I turned my attention to an old German book about Klee’s work. I tore out a few pages, ate them and drunk some milk. In the last part of the performance, depicted in the photograph, I washed the staircase with milk.” • Explaining art to the Sparrow (a representation of freedom), after Beuys, is more then a tribute. It is a statement on the connection between art and life, between the poetic and the politic aspects of being. By eating the pages of the book I tried to absorb history and knowledge dear to me, to make it a part of me, a constant remainder in my body, but at the same time I destroyed it in the process. Washing the staircase with milk is an act of erasure. cleaning the traces of the performance, erases the traces of thought. History as ended, what was will be.

  7. MASKHARA • Outset Israel Supported Anisa Ashkar 'Mashkahara', performance based installation showcased at Fresh Paint 2 Contemporary Art Fair on March 2009.The location chosen for Anisa Ashkar's installation-performance 'Mashkahara' draws upon the artist's own life. The point of departure for the work was the railroad tracks at the Turkish station, built in the late nineteenth century, on the blurred borderline between Jaffa and Tel Aviv. The station is not far from Andromeda's Rock, named after the heroine of Greek mythology.The existence of borders connecting / separating places, histories, cultures and identities and the act of sailing away from current reality towards the mythological past in order to examine the present have been at the core of Ashkar's work. The eponymous 'Mashkahara' is a charcoal making device using slow combustion, a traditional profession in Ashkar's family which is still practiced in some Arab villages and towns. Charcoal, chalk, white and black milk are the materials and metaphors frequently employed by Ashkar in her performances. • www.outset.org.uk



  10. We Shall Meet on One of the Days With the Long Shadow

  11. ZIFT • The exhibition Zift sharpens Anisa Ashkar's dealings with the dichotomy of black and white. Simply that. And loaded. The black is blackness and otherness, lovely and oppressed; white is the neighbour across the way, alien and exotic, enticing and opressing. "Zift" is the Arabic word for "tar" and took root in Hebrew generations ago as slang meant to describe a situation, personal or collective. Hamatzav zift- the situation sucks. Any doubt about that?

  12. In Zift, tar becomes material possessed by Ashkar in a new fashion, and it joins a continuum of materials that serve her oeuvre- starting with her dark eyes outlined with blue and decorated with black Arabic calligraphy. The act of the painting of her eyes and the writing of the calligraphy along the lower lid of her eye began some ten years ago, while she was still a student at the Midrasha, and has since become a daily ceremony, every single morning. She gets up, makes-up, writes a phrase or word that comes to her during the ritual and goes out. These last three years she has been living in Tel Aviv. Her every step into the street announces her identity as a meticulously groomed woman with blazing eyes; a charismatic woman affirming her Arabicness and her cultural-aesthetic sources. Arabic calligraphy blossomed as a result of the prohibition of the making of sculpture or masks, shared by Judaism and Islam alike. • In the Zift exhibition Incidentally, she draws the eyes with sprayed-on tar, a yellowed black colour. Tar spray is known as insulating material and protection from rust in vehicles and tin. On each drawing surface, Ashkar isolates a single eye, never similar to another. The spray splatters and leaving stains on the whiteness of the surface, dropping "gunk" on it.

  13. The viewers in the space are surrounded by the row of dark eyes, the floor is covered with hundreds of branches filled with cotton balls. The cotton-- chopped, white, sectioned and like velvet petals. The branches indeed bloom from within a miniature leather suitcase gaping against one of the walls. The suitcase of a wandering Jew, purchased by the artist at the Netanya flea market, somehow transmigrated into her life in a kind of fellowship of destiny. Now it represents them both: the artist and the kibbutz bordering the Barbur neighbourhood.

  14. In contrast to the tar, cotton has now been added to the artist's materials. In all her works, as here in Zift too, Ashkar depends on substances which lead to autobiographical sensations and experiences. The combination of cotton and tar, which definitely recalls a form of punishment (tar and feathering), also infuses this lovely and exacting exhibition with a heavy and complex sense of sacrifice, pain and chagrin. In today's Israel, belonging to the quasi-naturalized Arab minority, is not a punishment without some minor humiliation to it. To be born in a place that appears on no map, sprung up between wind-blown dunes and utter darkness, where even today there is no roadway, is a kind of punishment, even if one can turn it into an autobiographical fortune, as Ashkar is learning to do. The appearance of the silky cotton lining the gallery floor with a rhythmic white beauty, brings to mind the cotton balls which Ashkar uses daily to remove her make up.

  15. “The breakfast ", is the set including a graceful small jug with a small branch of cotton soaked in tar as its content, is called. Next to the jug is a tiny demitasse whose inner white surface is also sprayed with tar. The demitasse, like the other coffee sets, benefits from the light created by the giant eye on the wall, like Mickey Mouse's: comic surrealism meant to draw a connection, far nonetheless, to the cup, saucer, and the teaspoon covered in fur in the 1936 work by Meret Oppenheim, Breakfast in Fur. Ashkar added crumbled gold leaf to the tar inside the utensils: as a kind of trick that never stops playing with contradictions – Arab and Israeli, gold and ceramics, white and black, dirty and pure, stained and radiant, stained and adorned.

  16. Lying on the floor are also two eggs which survived Leda and the Swan. Except that these eggs have been rolled in tar and turned black and are stamped with an uneven texture. On each of the isolated, big, eggs Ashkar has signed her name in white felt tip and next to her name put the date and written " Free-range egg". She says that in Arabic there isn't an expression exactly like this. In Arabic, she says, all eggs are "baladi" [local].But the Hebrew expression which has spread and rooted in the shopping basket of gourmets and the ecologically knowledgeable amuses her. For her, in the place she grew up all the hens run free and all the eggs are free-range. Anisa Ashkar too is a special kind of free-range egg, a black one. She too was born outside the cage, symbolizing law, the state, the civil authorities, the "culture" and the cruel results of that culture. Ashkar declared long ago that her identity derives from the tile [ballata] on which she treads and that its borders are the size of that tile. In addition to this declaration she now adds another: to the country-not-of-all-its-citizens, in Israel which plans to amend the law of citizenship to compel citizens like Ashkar to estrange themselves from their Arab- Palestinian identity, to betray themselves in order to prove their loyalty to a state which excludes them, she plans to remind herself only that "I am a free-range egg". Like it; eat up.

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