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The drawing in comic style shows an androgynous figure in profile on magenta background. She wears a bright frock, her left hand is raised. An eagle has just flown out of her hand

Yael Bartana
Redemp­tion Now

Exhibition

From 4 June 2021, the Jewish Museum Berlin will present Yael Bartana: Redemption Now. This large-scale solo exhibition of the contemporary artist Yael Bartana investigates the power of imagination and art’s redemptive potential. For more than twenty years, Bartana has been inquiring into grand historical narratives that help to constitute national and other collective identities.

The show brings together more than fifty early and more recent works, including video installations, photographs, and neon works.

Please note that a visit to the museum is currently only possible with a time slot ticket. You can book theese in advance in our ticket shop.

4 Jun to 10 Oct 2021

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Where

Old Building, level 1
Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin

The exhibition follows an eschatological topos – the recurring idea that a leader may bring salvation – and its deconstruction. At the core of the show is the commissioned video work Malka Germania (Hebrew for “Queen Germania”), which Bartana conceived for the Jewish Museum and produced at historically charged locations across Berlin.

An androgynous savior figure comes to the German capital. Her journey floods the city with scenes from an imagined collective unconscious; past and future merge in an alternative present. The installation’s theme of collective redemption addresses traumata, hopes of salvation, and the desire for change.

Yael Bartana’s works have been exhibited worldwide and form part of international collections. She is known for exploring the visual languages of identity and memory politics, nations, and social movements.

Portrait (bust) of a woman with black short hair. She wears a black jacket and a black and white cross-striped T-shirt and is just putting on dark sunglasses. In the background there is a wall clock showing 12 o'clock.

Yael Bartana, 2017; photo: Birgit Kaulfuss

Yael Bartana observes, documents, dissects, and reinvents public rituals, ceremonies, and social practices that are intended to build collective identities. Her art provokes an activist viewing – asking visitors to engage in the political act of reflecting on their responsibility in society.

Yael Bartana was born in Israel in 1970 and currently lives in Amsterdam and Berlin.

Yael Bartana

Website of the artist presenting her projects as well as catalogues and other publications about her work.
To Yael Bartana’s website

Exhibition Topics

Degenerate Art Is Alive

Yael Bartana animates the figures from Otto Dix’s 1920 painting War Cripples into a crowded, squeaking and clomping procession. After the First World War, Dix made drawings of protesting veterans who were demanding state recognition of their service. During the Nazi era, Dix’s works were labeled as “degenerate” and banned. The painting War Cripples was destroyed and exists only in print. In Bartana’s animation, the old heroes come to life as surviving artworks. The work’s German title Entartete Kunst Lebt means “Degenerate Art Lives” and alludes to the slogan “The People of Israel Lives” ( עם ישראל חי, Am Israel Chai). The film calls upon viewers to join the procession, to transform strength into vulnerability, answers into questions, and convictions into art.

Yael Bartana, Entartete Kunst Lebt (“Degenerate Art Lives,” excerpt), 2010, animation, 16 mm film and sound, 5 min; courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv

The World Turned Upside Down

Yael Bartana has been confounding her audience’s sense of what is real for over two decades. Indeed, the feeling of navigating a world that blurs the lines between reality and fiction fits the current climate to a tee. Particularly in her early, documentary works, Bartana observed social rituals that create order in people’s chaotic day-to-day lives. In the Jewish tradition, the era of redemption is preceded by a period of crisis and the initial “birth pangs of the Messiah.”

The End of the World Cycle

In uneasy times, the longing for redemption grows. Over and over in history, crises have been associated with apocalyptic moods and a feeling that salvation is imminent. In Jewish tradition alone, there have been several proclamations of the Messiah’s arrival, such as the cases of Bar Kochba (d. 135) and Shabbatai Zevi (1626–1676). The desire for leadership during difficult times can often be explained by a given time period’s political and historical contexts.
Yael Bartana has explored the cyclical pronouncements that the world is ending in various works. Her most recent work on the subject, the installation Malka Germania (2021), is presented as the centerpiece in a later room of this exhibition. These works portray the plurality of messianic hopes as historical moments in which fiction and reality overlap.

The Study Room

Notions of salvation can be dangerous, as they oversimplify things. The prospect of redemption promises a solution to all problems, an attitude diametrically opposed to the study of scripture and religious texts in Judaism with its process of incessant questioning.
The study room is a place for rising above ignorance and stereotypes. The neon sculpture What if Women Ruled the World prompts visitors to contemplate imagination and questions of personal responsibility in society. Surrounded by Yael Bartana’s self-portraits in various personas, you are invited to read the exhibition publication, which adopts the polyphonic method of the Talmud, the core text of rabbinical Judaism. With Abracadabra, created during the pandemic, Bartana points to the relationships between science and superstition, modernity and mysticism. Memorials and performance projects by the artist are presented on tablets.

Malka Germania

The video work Malka Germania, commissioned by the Jewish Museum Berlin, investigates the longing for collective redemption as a response to an age of anxiety. An androgynous messianic figure, Malka Germania, arrives in Berlin and brings about a series of changes in the city: the past and future implode into an alternative present.

More on Malka Germania

Malka Germania is Hebrew for “Queen Germania.” The name makes reference to an unusual female designation for the Messiah: “Malka Meshichah,” or the “Annointed Queen.” The Messiah has come to Berlin and thus to the historic epicenter of Jewish, Israeli, and German collective memory. Instead of experiencing immediate redemption, as the exhibition’s title might imply, the city is haunted by its residents’ collective subconscious: their dreams, fears, and memories. The piece portrays subconscious elements, gray areas, and ambiguities of contemporary German-Jewish experience through the artistic medium. At the same time, it attempts to disrupt a fixed iconography and to deconstruct identities.

Bartana leaves the question of who is to be redeemed ambiguous. Perhaps it is people trying to shake off the Nazi past? Or others who want to move on from the trauma of the Holocaust? Or does she mean all humankind as the beneficiaries of a messianic age? The commissioned work shows how impossible it is to break away from personal or inherited pasts. At the same time, it preserves the tension of redemption, which is a core element of national myths and collective identities.

Beyond the video installation itself, Bartana adds another layer of public engagement with savior figures. A vitrine cabinet recessed in the video wall reveals a collection of statuettes of Malka Germania with an eagle. Resembling a museum storage facility, this display raises the prospect of Malka being historicized and commercialized as a cultural icon. The association between the savior figure and the national symbol combines religious expectations with political ones. The liberation of the eagle by the Messiah, as depicted on the exhibition poster, stands allegorically for the moment of redemption.

The video installation Malka Germania is a specially commissioned work and was made possible by the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Mondriaan Fund and Jan Fischer (Light Art Space, LAS).

The Pre-Enactment Method

Remembering the past and grappling with history play a significant role in the present-day formation of collective identities. In many of her works, Yael Bartana proposes future events that may become historical realities. She stages pseudo-historical situations, travels into the viewers’ collective memories, reflects upon their utopias, recalibrates historical forms of representation, and charts new paths into the future.

The JRMiP Archive

The Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP) is Bartana’s most famous complex of artworks. It consists of the video trilogy And Europe Will Be Stunned, which was Poland’s contribution to the 2011 Venice Biennale. In 2012, an international convention was held, the First Congress of the Jewish Renaissance Movement in Poland (JRMiP), as part of the Berlin Biennale. In addition, an abundance of objects, graphics and merchandise accompanied the project at various exhibition venues. The JRMiP seeks to encourage the return of Jews to Poland, applying an open-ended definition of Jewishness. This vividly demonstrates some of the ways Bartana probes the effects of reality and fiction, past and present, propaganda and art. The display of JRMiP memorabilia alongside the primary video art self-referentially stages the JRMiP as a museum exhibit, placing this imaginary political movement into a kind of reality.

Illuminated neon sign “And Europe will be Stunned” on a wall

Yael Bartana, And Europe Will Be Stunned, 2010, neon, 125 × 110 cm; courtesy of THE EKARD COLLECTION

Curators: Dr. Shelley Harten and Dr. Gregor H. Lersch.

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication Yael Bartana. The Book of Malka Germania (details on the publication and reading samples). The volume is also available in German.

Yael Bartana. The Book of Malka Germania (trailer)

Yael Bartana − Redemption Now: Works in the Exhibition

Entartete Kunst Lebt, 2010
Animation, 16 mm film and sound, 5 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Animation: Hadar Landsberg
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Production: Israel, the Netherlands
Commissioned by the Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv (CCA)

When Adar Enters, 2003
One channel video and sound installation, 7 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Editor: Yael Bartana
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Production: Israel, the Netherlands

Ad de’lo Yoda, 2003
One channel video installation, 3 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Camera and Editor: Yael Bartana
Production: Israel, the Netherlands

Wild Seeds, 2005
Two channel video and sound installation, 6:40 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Producer: Ilil Bartana
Camera: Yael Bartana, Itai Neeman
Editor: Yael Bartana, Thalia Hoffman
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Production: Israel, the Netherlands

Kings of the Hill, 2003
One channel video and sound installation, 7:30 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Camera and Editor: Yael Bartana
Production: Israel, the Netherlands

Waiting for the Messiah, 2014/2020
Pigment print (originally 80 x 120 cm)
Research Assistant: Fabio Zuker
Illustrator: Batia Kolton
Graphic Design: Gila Kaplan, Oded Korach
Supported by the 31st São Paulo Biennale, 2014

Next Year in New Jerusalem, 2014
Neon, 105 cm in diameter
Courtesy of Galeria Raffaella Cortese, Milan, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Design: Guy Saggee

Simone the Hermetic, 2015
One channel sound installation, 15 min
Director: Yael Bartana
Text: Noam Rotem
Text Editor: Noa Shuval
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Production: Israel, Niederlande
Commissioned by Jerusalem Season of Culture 2015

Abracadabra, 2020
Digital print, 84.1 x 59.4 cm
Graphic Design: Avi Bohbot

What if Women Ruled the World, 2016
Neon, 250 x 97.5 cm
Courtesy of Collezione Carmela Sanguedolce

Herzl, 2015
Photograph series of 6 images, color photograph, fine art print, 60 x 40 cm: Herzl (I–III); Jonathan; Daniel; Isaac
Photographer: Daniel Sheriff
Costume Designer: Yael Shenberger
Make-Up: Omer Asaf

Resurrection II, 2020
Color photograph, fine art print, 25 x 17 cm (without frame)
Photographer: Marc Junghans

Public Art and Performances
(referenced in the exhibition)

Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism, 2018
Director and Editor: Yael Bartana
Director of Photography: Mick van Rossum
Producer: Naama Pyritz
Post production supervisor: Eran Feller
Color Correction: Ido Karela
Research: Itamar Gov
Still photographer: Birgit Kaulfuss
Costume: Nadja Eller
Make-Up: Inbal Sitin
Participants: Agnesh Pakozdi, Mo Sun, Rebecca Ofek, Uri Gov
All images used in the work courtesy of Schwules Museum Berlin

The Orphan Carousel, 2021
Memorial to the Rescuing Kindertransports of 1938–39, Frankfurt
Concept & Idea: Yael Bartana
Architecture: Florian Stirnemann
Construction: Noibau, Ertl und Zull
Project Coordination: Anja Lindner
Commissioned by the City of Frankfurt am Main (Head of Project: Kulturamt Frankfurt am Main, Dr. Jessica Beebone)

Monumento a la Ausencia, Denkmal der Abwesenden, Mexico City, 2018
Concept: Yael Bartana
The monument was created as part of the collective compensation ruled by the Victim Attention Executive Commission (CEAV), formed by the federal government, in collaboration with the Tlatelolco University Cultural Center, UNAM.

Two Minutes of Standstill, Cologne, 2013
A collective performance by Yael Bartana
Spatial Concept: Jackie Shemesh
Graphic Design: Gila Kaplan, Oded Korach
A project by Impulse Theater Biennale 2013, founded by the Academy of the World, Cologne. In collaboration with Theaterakademie Köln.

What if Women Ruled the World, 2017/2018
Participants: Alix Wilton Regan (actor), Amy J. Nelson, Anat Saragusti (moderator), Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, Anja Van der Hulst, Antke Engel, Anni Helena Routsala, Antje Stahl (moderator), Bana Gora, Beyza Unal, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Camilla Tenna Nørup Sørensen, Carina Ann Meyn, Carmen Wunderlich, Christina von Braun, Christine Muttonen, Diani Barretto, Frances Raday, Galit Eilat, Heather Linebaugh, Holly Kilroy, Illa Ben Porat, Irena Sabic, Jelia Sane, Jo Martin (actor), Karin von Hippel, Kasha Nabagasera, Kate Raworth, Kübra Gümüşay, Leyla Hussein, Lina Khatib, Lisa Ling, Lone Træholt, Marion Koopmans, Mariam Ibrahim Yusuf, May Zeidani, Naila Bozo, Nancy Hollander, Natasha Walter, Noura Bittar Søborg, Olwen Foeuéré (actor), Or (Ori) Rabinowitz, Patricia Flor, Patricia Lewis, Paula Peters, Reem Fadda, Samira Saraya (actor), Sarai Aharoni, Seida Saric, Sharon Squassoni, Shogofa Sahar, Sophia Besch, Susan George, Tarja Cronberg, Ulrike von Pilar, Virginia Wangare Greiner, Xanthe Hall
Concept, Script and Director: Yael Bartana
Set Design: Saygel & Schreiber
Lighting Design: Jackie Shemesh
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Graphic Design: Avi Bohbot, Gila Kaplan
Producers: Yael Bartana, Jo Paton Htay (MIF), Naama Pyritz (Ingenue Productions)
Stills Photographer: Birgit Kaulfuss
Studio Yael Bartana: Itamar Gov, Esper Postma, Saskia Wendland
What if Women Ruled the World? is commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival, European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 and Volksbühne Berlin.
Supported by Mondriaan Fund

Die Schofar Schule, 2020
Project by: Yael Bartana
Participants: Annie Albagli, Harry Dukker, Thomas Lunderquist, Yarden Stern, Jeannine Dath, Gabriel Nahoum, Nikolay Karabinovych, Arthur Hirsch, David Bernstein, Solange Akierman, Katja Petrowskaja, Elisabeth Belisário
Shofar teacher: Miriam Camerini
Respondents: Wanda Nanibush, Banjamin Seroussi
A project initiated and coproduced by Kunstenfestivaldesarts in the frame of The Diasporic Schools In collaboration with: Casa do Povo

Redemption Now, 2021
Neon, 180 x 128 cm
Courtesy of a private collection, Southern Germany

Malka Germania, 2021
Three channel video and sound installation, 43 min
Director and Editor: Yael Bartana
Producers: Naama Pyritz, Martina Haubrich
Actress: Gala Moody
Director of Photography: David Stragmeister
2nd Unit Camera: Mick van Rossum, Matan Radin
Costume Designer: Yael Shenberger
Art Director: Karin Betzler
Choreography: Hagar Ophir
Editor: Daphna Keenan
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Research and story consultant: Itamar Gov
Story Consultant: Sami Berdugo, Mille Haynes
Additional Production: Anja Lindner
Additional Camera: Marcus Pohlus, Itai Vinograd, Walter Solon
Drone operators: Michael und Florian Basche
Voice: Susanne Sachsse
Storyboard & Illustration: Hadar Landsberg
Make-Up: Monique Bredow
Color Correction: Simon Veronig
Special Effects: snowball studios
Commissioned by the Jewish Museum Berlin and made possible by the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Mondriaan Fund and Jan Fischer (Light Art Space, LAS)

Das Malka Depot, 2021
Installation
Styrofoam, polyuretan-foam (PU), plaster
Sculptors: Gunnar Zimmer, Frants Rodvalt

Low Relief II, 2004
Four channel video and sound installation, 5:40 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Production: Israel, the Netherlands

The Missing Negatives of the Sonnenfeld Collection (after Herbert & Leni Sonnenfeld), 2008
Black and white photograph series of 22 images, paper: 48 x 32 cm, frame: 72.5 x 56.5 cm; paper: 32 x 48 cm, frame: 56.5 x 72.5 cm; size varies: 32 x 48 cm, 48 x 32 cm, 39 x 58.4 cm
Photographers: Amit Israeli & Yael Bartana
Commissioned by the Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of The Jewish People, Tel Aviv

The Undertaker, 2019
One channel video and sound installation, 13 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam; Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, and Petzel Gallery, New York

Bury Our Weapons, Not Our Bodies, 2018
Series of 7 masks, silkscreen on aluminum, 63.3 x 51.2 cm; 63.3 x 377 cm; 63.1 x 53.4 cm; 63.2 x 50.9 cm
Courtesy of the artist, Capitain Petzel Gallery, Berlin and Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam

Trembling Time, 2001
One channel video and sound installation, 6:20 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Camera and Editor: Yael Bartana
Sound Design: Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec
Production: Israel, the Netherlands

And Europe Will Be Stunned, 2010
Neon, 125 x 110 cm
Courtesy of THE EKARD COLLECTION

And Europe Will Be Stunned: Mary Koszmary (Nightmares), 2007
One channel video and sound installation, 11 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam and Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw
Actor: Sławomir Sierakowski
Text: Sławomir Sierakowski & Kinga Dunin
Producer: Naama Pyritz
Director of Photography: Itai Neeman
Editors: Yael Bartana, Daniel Meir, Anat Salomon
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Color Correction: Yoav Raz
Thanks to the school children of Szkoła Podstawowa nr 73, ul. Białostocka 10/18, Warsaw
Supported by Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam; The Fund for Video Art and Experimental Cinema, The Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv Produced by Hermès, Paris, and Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw

And Europe Will Be Stunned: Mur i Wieza (Wall and Tower), 2009
One channel video and sound installation, 15 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Director and Editor: Yael Bartana
Producer: Naama Pyritz
Director of Photography: Uri Ackerman
Camera: Nicolas Villegas
Sound Design: Daniel Meir
Architect: Gilia Breger
Assistant Editor: Daniel Meir
Color Correction: Ido Karilla
After Effects: Eran Feller
Storyboard Illustration: Hadar Landsberg
Produced with the support of the Ostrovsky Family Fund, New York; the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB), Amsterdam; the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; the Institute Adam Mickiewicz, Warsaw; the Goethe Institute, Warsaw; POLIN – the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw; Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam; Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv

And Europe Will Be Stunned: Zamach (Assassination), 2011
One channel video and sound installation, 35 min
Courtesy of Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam, and Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv
Director and Editor: Yael Bartana
Producer: Naama Pyritz
Associate Producer: James Lingwood
Director of Photography: Itai Neeman
Camera: Uri Ackerman
Co-Editors: Thalia Hoffman, Daniel Meir
Art Director: Jacek Turewicz
Costume Designer: Malgorzata Trzaskowska
Actors: Sławomir Sierakowski, Susanne Sachsee, Alona Frankel, Yaron London, Anda Rottenberg, Dana Yahalomi, Salome Gersch, Marek Maj, Ewa Einhorn
Writers: Gish Amit, Sebastian Cichocki, Michael Kessus Gedalyovich, Alona Frankel, Yaron London, Anda Rottenberg
Text Editors: Illa Ben-Porat, Charles Esche, Marc Siegel
Script Consultants: Gish Amit, Illa Ben-Porat, Sebastian Cichocki, Galit Eliat, Camilla Nielsson
Colorist: Ido Karilla
After Effects: Eran Feller
Production Manager: Magdalena Nebelska
Original Music: Maya Dunietz & Daniel Meir
Lyrics: Noam Rotem
Supported by Annet Gelink Gallery, Amsterdam; Sommer Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv; Ikon, Birmingham; Australia Centre for Contemporary Art, Southbank; Artis, New York; Polish Institute, Tel Aviv
Produced by My-I Productions in association with Artangel, 2011

JRMiP Congress, 2012
Producer: Anja Lindner
Production Design and Lighting Design: Jackie Shemesh
Camera: Krunoslav Vrabat, David Rych, Julia Lazarus
Editor: Krunoslav Vrabat
Sound Designer: Daniel Meir
Production: the Netherlands, Germany
Photographer: Ilya Rabinovich
Commissioned by the 7th Berlin Biennal, 2012

We Shall Be Strong In Our Weakness, 2012
Neon, 50 x 190 cm
Courtesy of De Jong Groep, Amsterdam
Design: Guy Saggee

The video installation Malka Germania is a specially commissioned work and was made possible by the Friends of the Jewish Museum Berlin, the Mondriaan Fund and Jan Fischer (Light Art Space, LAS).

Exhibition Information at a Glance

  • When

    4 Jun to 10 Oct 2021

  • Entry fee

    8 €, reduced rate 3 €, children and young people under the age of 18 can enter free of charge. You can find more information on our price list.
    Ticket shop

  • Where

    Old Building, level 1
    Lindenstraße 9–14, 10969 Berlin
    See Location on Map

  • Please Note

    For current COVID-19 guidelines concerning your visit, please see Planning Your Visit.

The exhibition is supported by

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Media partners

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