Shell Hakim and Tal Simon | A Blue Marble

‘The Blue Marble’ is a famous image of the Earth taken from space by the Apollo 17 crew in 1972 on their way to the moon. The image shows the earth’s surface in its entirety, fully illuminated, and is one of the first images that captured it this way. From a great distance of about 29,000 kilometers, the star appears to the astronauts like a small blue marble, hence the name given to the photograph.

Tal Simon and Shell Hakim, “Nofey-Habsor” art department graduates, classmates, Kibbutz Beeri members who several years ago left to study in Bezalel’s Department of Art and Department of Architecture, look at the kibbutz from the inside and outside. Like astronauts who sensatively look at their home, perhaps from anear, perhaps from afar, they touch on issues of closeness, distance, longing, changing landscapes, past, present, and future of the kibbutz, place, and home.

Shell Hakim combines his architectural training and analytical view of the space with artistic and expressive means – emotion, personal acquaintance, and a possibility of looking inward in a way that responds to the place, to the home. The architectural research tool and its raw materials – drawing, model, photogrammetric scans, laptop on a desk, become the work’s center in the gallery space. Leaving the office boundaries for the kibbutz gallery is an invitation to a transparent and open conversation about the tension between collectivity and division, unification and separation. Through an analytical and intimate investigation, on the one hand, Hakim creates a new perspective on the kibbutz. Wanting a transparent discussion on the subject of the “home” in the broadest sense, he chooses to concentrate on the elusive, the “transparent” elements that dictate our lifestyles – Kibbutz fences, sidewalks, and lawns. All of these outline our path – where we go and how; what belongs to me and what to the neighbor, where it is allowed and where forbidden. Hakim samples sections of these planning elements throughout the kibbutz and creates a kind of new digital object/model, and displayes them on a large TV screen inside a box in the space. Viewers are invited to stand around it and watch from above how the camera wanders across sidewalks and private homes entrances.

In the gallery space, Hakim sits at his drawing table and invites the local audience to converse and discuss questions: what they like about the place, what causes discomfort and apprehension, and how they see the place in the future. On the wall behind him, there are three-dimensional isometric drawings of his new family home in the Hakerem neighborhood and his old home in an Oranim neighborhood apartment. His research in the gallery will become part of a work for his architecture studies. Throughout the exhibition, Shell will stay in the gallery and meet people during opening hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Tal Simon creates large compositions ranging between landscapes and Mindscapes. His large scale paintings fill the gallery walls with color and intense presence, spreading bursting energy. Pink, turquoise, and orange paints have spread in the space as if they came off the paintings and painted cubes and walls.

Simon’s expressive paintings present dense, truncated, and dynamic environments; their colors are intense, almost chaotic, with the various elements in them in a constant struggle over their appearance’s conditions. Coarse stains cover delicate lines; opaque white erasures roughly rise on colored pastel surfaces, dry acrylic on wet oil, a few sanded layers, peeled and scratched to reveal earlier layers – like windows to the painting’s history. His work begins from memory and moves to drawing on paper or the computer. When the drawing is complete, he sets it aside and no longer looks at it. Only after a while goes by, he paints on the canvas according to his memory of the drawing, without looking at the original drawing. The process allows him to linger and stretch the image; it allows for change and abstraction.

In this exhibition, he returns to his Kibbutz home, where time seems almost to stand still, and observes the small-big changes: the harvested field, the asbestos roofs that have been replaced, his mother’s garden, which has grown since his last visit. This formation is reflected in the paintings, as in the viewer, whose identity is constantly integrated.

Dr. Ziva Jelin

More images from the exhibition