Like one big breath of life
Miriam Cabessa’spainting encapsulates the gallery. Coming down from the pointed ceiling to the walls and floor, pouring down and spreading boundlessly in every direction. Blackening and marking, caressing and encompassing, sealing every crack in the wall. Coating the whiteness of the gallery with vibrating waves. An illusion is created when the space surrounding the viewer becomes a painting, when imaginary and reality combine. It is like stepping into the painting, drawn into the two-dimensional illusion. Loosing sense of space. Where it is sunken, where it protrudes, swept into an experience the mind finds hard to process.
The technique Cabessa uses resists the paint, the rich appliance of color and all intentions to become a shape of specific image. She spreads diluted paint with thick sponges, letting her breath dictate her movement. It is a slow and repetitive process, changing by the pressure applied, the angle of her body and the characteristics of the surface. The body becomes a tool with limited control. Each breath-swipe leaves surprising traces, changing from moment to moment. It feels organic, almost alive. It is important for Cabessa to stay connected, in stillness, not planning her movement or trying to create an image, not aiming for a specific result. She does not work with a set of rules or layout, like she once did. The work leads her as she tries not to get in its way. She becomes her own worker. Painted with the same technique as the walls, ceiling and floor is a tree. Standing bare and alone in the middle of the gallery. It is planted in a plastic bucket of paint, branches spreading out to its sides. It feels deserted, resonating a deep sense of loneliness. The whole space surrounding the tree unfolds around it, comes into being by its presence.
The gallery was once the communal dining room of the kibbutz, built in 1956 and imported from Germany. In those years Swedish shacks were imported as a quick solution for young and growing settlements. It is an elongated building with a pointed ceiling, nothing like the local flat-roofed stone Arabic houses found here. For Cabessa it resembled a church, a place of matter and spirit, distanced from the bustling world outside, like a little bubble in time. The dining room was the cultural and social center of the kibbutz, and it became one of its symbols. Functioning as much more than a room for dining, it became a place for discussions, lectures, celebrations and holidays, even dancing. A central place in the community. It was a secular church of such. Formally and morally it is the most prominent building in the kibbutz, it’s location also symbolizing its status. The group was a replacement for families left in the golah, social ideas replaced religion, and the dining room replaced the synagogue. Dining together had a special social values of solidarity and brotherhood, a symbol of the community.
The title of the exhibition “Time of the World” is a quote from a poem by BiaIlik. The poem leaves the reader with a strong impression of a long life passing, connecting time and space. Space is the world and it is constructed through never-ending time. Just as the painting spills down from the ceiling to the floor, the slow Sisyphean work produces a different experience of time. It becomes a graph of its passage, a gently vibrating seismograph. The viewer is encapsulated by the painting, caught up and separated from the normal pass of time. It is now slow and meditative. Time of breathing. The church like shape of the gallery is now covered in black, reminding us of charred ashes. The fires in Australia and those here in the Gaza envelope trickle into the work. One can almost smell smoke in the air as the outside world merges with the one inside. Cabessa’s painting expands into the world, blends in with it and seeps back into the gallery. All becomes one.