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The joint exhibition “Till I End My Song,” by artist Tamar Harpaz and composer Asaf Hazan, is currently on display at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art through November 3. The show focuses on the imprint of trauma left on even the most mundane objects. The artists elucidate the relationship between object and sound, exploring deeply-rooted yet repressed narratives.
Harpaz and Hazan conceived the idea behind the project following three years of research in The Netherlands. It was then that the artists decided to combine their skills to create a mixed media narrative. “It started from combining this technical idea and how to work with it until a story emerges, it was something like that,” said Hazan.
While at first glance the exhibition appears to be coated with technicalities, it’s marinating in a number of existential tropes. From the Judaica incorporated in the installation to the very title itself, the body of work forces its audience to ruminate on their past, present, and future. The show takes its name from acclaimed Israeli poet Avot Yeshurun, whose work retrospectively questioned and contemplated traumatic events.
The exhibition’s title, “Till I End My Song,” is derived from Yeshurun’s idiom, “I was afraid to fall asleep again.” The phrase refers to his escape from the Holocaust, thereby shining light on his enduring sense of guilt for abandoning his parents, who eventually perished.
“Till I End My Song” features ordinary domestic objects, such as a wooden spoon and tea cup, appear to be floating in space, as sound waves pass through. Perhaps the most distinct subject in the installation is the shofar, an archaic musical instrument intended for ancient Jewish rituals.
The installation possesses visual, auditory, and theatrical qualities taking its audience through a journey. Amid the subtle near-silence, is the abrupt sound of alarm clocks ringing. A metaphor of recollection and awakening, it is actualized as the trauma-associated objects and sounds collide. “It was about how to make an object a protagonist of the installation so we wanted to bring sound into it to see how all these things interact,” said Harpaz.
Another motif that becomes prevalent throughout the installation is the presence of enigma. The space is dimly lit, with light shining only on the subjects themselves. The darkness of the exhibition perpetuates the notion that a secret will be revealed, but as viewers continue to make their way through the works, it becomes evident that each object is only a reflection of the past.