Bondormin | Hila Amram and Shahar Kornblit

“On the grass, where the facilities are located, there was a line of tigers, and all the tigers ran away except for one, and me and Eran ran to the tiger. And I said to Eran: Grab the tiger’s tail, and I’ll be right there and help you. We’ll drag the tiger to the chicken coop, and then we’ll tame it, and it will be ours, and we can take it hunting.”

This was the dream that Uri Magen from Kibbutz Beeri’s Kalanit kindergarten had on January 22, 1963. It is taken from the “Dreams Notebook” on display at the Kibbutz’s Nostalgia Exhibition. A plain brown notebook from back then, written in the rounded handwriting belonging to Hasida, the mythological kindergarten teacher. This was the starting point. Hila Amram and Shahar Kornblit’s exhibition at the Be’eri Gallery came into being from their wandering around the kibbutz and collecting materials and object parts, preferably old and rusty. They were open to the random, ready to encounter anything the local reality would summon for them; they arrived to experience and to get a first-hand impression. They roamed the service sectors area, the garage, the carpentry, “The Kingdom” (a recycling and second-hand center), the petting zoo, the chillout corner, the stable, the soccer field, and the nostalgia exhibition. During the week-long preparation for the exhibition, all their thoughts and the artifacts they collected from the studio and courtyard flowed into the gallery, and they started sorting and building in the gallery space.

The exhibition shows kindergarten table-tops, their underpart filled with scribbles, a rollaway bed echoing the presence of a “parent on duty” from the days of shared accommodation, an insect-filled drawer whose contents have disintegrated, a taxidermied nocturnal predatory bird, a horned eagle-owl, inspired by the natural-history room, crooked metal shelves and more. Hila Amram and Shahar Kornblit used all these to create a site-specific installation soaked in a secretive nocturnal atmosphere. The dream from the notebook led them to build a dark space, where parts of magical objects, sometimes tattered or preserved, take you into a world of either imagination and dream or fear and horror; into the children’s world.

BONDORMIN – the exhibition’s name – is the local brand name of a strong sedative. It testifies to a restless night’s sleep, the sleep of children trapped between innocent serenity and threat. And here is also where magic is born: A bright insect drawer that is “floating” in space; a strange IV pole holding lampshades and barnacles; a polystyrene float belt that looks like a string of beads that was blown out of proportion, and a screen featuring a sleepy lion cub (in the Gaza zoo director’s home where he received shelter during the bombings), the rusty metal shelves, illuminated by LED strips, laden with strange artifacts like glass containers preserving decaying porcupine and squirrel toys, an old alarm clock whose numbers and hands have fallen off; a pillow; a picture and a bottle, a glove and a seashell and an ostrich egg. A rollaway bed positioned as a tent, lit inside; a towel rack in which both a child’s chair is inserted upside down as well as a towel, a light pole transformed by an umbrella skeleton into a magical mobile on which puffers and blowfish are hanging, and a bundle of clothes and sheets wrapped on top of a post , ready for a journey, its destination or reason unclear.

The riddle remains unsolved, like an uninterpreted dream, but it leaves traces and sensations that range from sweetness and delight to vague horror, somnambulant dream webs that follow us onto the morning of a new day. And who would want to wake up from such a dream? I lift the blanket over my head and cling to another moment between a dream and an awakening.

24/6 11:00-14:00

gallery talk 22/7 12:30

Dr. Ziva Jelin

More images from the exhibition