Mor Reimer | In the Dead of Night

Mor Riemer was born and raised in Kibbutz Urim, one of the “eleven points” that settled in the Negev on the night of Yom Kippur 1946. In her exhibition at Kibbutz Beeri gallery, Mor deals with the time changes occurring in the kibbutz from her point of view – and seeks to create the experience of a night stroll around the place.

The overnight settlement is illuminated by the spirit of pioneering and ideological belief. The pioneers ascended to an arid Negev location, an empty place. Today the area is a flourishing paradise, but the people who founded it are gone. So are the values and ideology that have long since been the essence. Her works are like wandering in the time-space between then and now. She follows archive photos from the times of aliyah to the settlement: first plantings, first shacks in the wide open and clean northern Negev area. Details from the photographs are integrated into a wide painting that extends over 9 meters. A new space is created, which, as in the etchings, lacks a horizon. The background is blackened compared to the intense colorfulness of the objects. It is reminiscent of a theatre set and again recalls the settlement’s beginning and the landscape’s primacy. The childish and naive flattening is prominent in the painting. It is expressed through oil pastels and chalks like in children’s drawings and the shuffling of viewing angles: individual and isolated shacks are painted from the side. At the same time, the kibbutz courtyard is seen from above, as are the sidewalks. The painting shows a basic stick fence, like a marking of the camp area’s boundary, and the element of pegs stuck inside planting pits reoccurs. The painting gives the viewer the point of view of the girl who was educated through stories about ascendance to the land from the kibbutz’s first days.

Her etchings deal with photos she shot in the kibbutz where she grew up: The foundations are there, the sidewalks, the main buildings still stand, trees and flowering vegetation, but the sidewalks are empty of people. The textures created in the etching turn everything into stone, structures, and vegetation alike. A sense of infinite space with no horizon. A primal, minimalist feel that echoes the great painting. Her painting borrows from the actions of the etching process: Covering and protecting the metal plate before exposing it to acid. The images that come up in the plate cover (during the etching process) are used for preservation (from the acid that consumes the material, from change) and visually create a kind of erasure of the image.

The tampered photo also shows the erasure against the emphasized details in it.

In contrast to the extreme flatness in the etching and the large painting, large stones are at the center of the space. Not actual stones, but stone sculptures; clumps of Styrofoam coated with gypsum and plaster. The white stones stand out against the black painting and the dark floor. They seem to have slid out of the etchings and into the space. They conjure up a state of night vision, in black and white, and a sense of mystery. Again, this is a primal/childlike vision that tries to identify objects in the dark, like shrubs and stones, and creates a generalizing shape that replaces the object itself.

In her work, Mor Riemer deals with preservation and erasure, nighttime and dream, the motionlessness of sleep, the space emptied of man and the fossil, and the look at the past and present in the kibbutz she grew up in.

Dr. Ziva Jelin, Sofie Berzon MacKie

More images from the exhibition