The UAG hosts the American premiere of Yael Bartana’s "Malka Germania"
*This article was updated on Jan. 4, 2022 to reflect the new opening date of Jan. 29, and on Jan. 27 to add the new closing date of April 8, 2022.
IRVINE, Calif. – The University of California, Irvine’s University Art Galleries (UAG) is pleased to host the American premiere of Israeli artist Yael Bartana’s large-scale video installation, Malka Germania. The work was originally commissioned by the Jewish Museum Berlin for Bartana’s retrospective Redemption Now. The exhibition will be on view at the Contemporary Arts Center Gallery from January 29 – April 8, 2022.
Malka Germania investigates the longing for collective redemption as a response to an age of anxiety. In it, an androgynous messianic figure, Malka Germania, arrives in Berlin and brings about a series of changes in the city: the past and future implode into an alternative present.
Malka Germania is Hebrew for “Queen Germany.” The name makes reference to an unusual female designation for the Messiah: Malka Meshichah, or the “Annointed Queen.” The Messiah has come to Berlin and thus to the historic epicenter of Jewish, Israeli, and German collective memory. Instead of experiencing immediate redemption, as the exhibition’s title might imply, the city is haunted by its residents’ collective subconscious: their dreams, fears, and memories.The piece portrays subconscious elements, gray areas, and ambiguities of contemporary German- Jewish experience through the artistic medium. At the same time, it attempts to disrupt a fixed iconography and to deconstruct identities.
Bartana leaves the question of who is to be redeemed ambiguous. Perhaps it is people trying to shake off the Nazi past? Or others who want to move on from the trauma of the Holocaust? Or does she mean all humankind as the beneficiaries of a messianic age? The commissioned work shows how impossible it is to break away from personal or inherited pasts. At the same time, it preserves the tension of redemption, which is a core element of national myths and collective identities.
About the Artists
Yael Bartana (born Israel, 1970) has been exhibited worldwide, and is represented in the collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris. She currently lives and works in Berlin and Amsterdam. Solo Exhibitions include: Fondazione Modena Arti Visive (2019/2020); Philadelphia Museum of Art (2018); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015); Secession, Vienna (2012); Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2012); Moderna Museet, Malmö (2010); MoMA PS1, NY (2008). Selection of Group Exhibitions: São Paulo Biennial (2014, 2010, 2006); Berlin Biennial (2012); documenta 12 (2007); Istanbul Biennial (2005), Manifesta 4 (2002). She won the Artes Mundi 4 Prize (2010) and the trilogy And Europe Will Be Stunned was ranked as the 9th most important art work of the 21th century by the Guardian newspaper (2019). https://yaelbartana.com/
Juli Carson is a professor of art, theory and criticism in the Department of Art at UC Irvine and Director of the University Art Galleries. From 2018-19 she was the Philippe Jabre Professor of Art History and Curating at the American University of Beirut. Her books include: Exile of the Imaginary: Politics, Aesthetics, Love (Vienna: Generali Foundation, 2007) and The Limits of Representation: Psychoanalysis and Critical Aesthetics (Buenos Aires: Letra Viva Press, 2011). Her most recent book, The Hermenuetic Impulse: Aesthetics of An Untethered Past, was published by PoLyPen, a subsidiary of b_books Press in 2019.
Malka Germania is presented with generous support from Diane and Igal Silber, the Claire Trevor Society, CTSA Dean's Fund for Excellence, UCI Illuminations, and the Mondriaan Fund.
About the UAG
The University Art Galleries are committed to promoting an inter-generational dialogue between 60s/70s neo-avant-garde art and contemporary visual culture. Accordingly, the curatorial mission is to keep an eye on the modernist past while promoting the most innovative aesthetic and political debates of the post-modern present. From this vantage, the projects commissioned provoke intelligent debate on the subject of art in its most expansive poetic definition. What distinguishes the program is its unwavering commitment to publishing scholarly texts in catalogue/book form in order to disseminate research-based information into the community, providing a venue for the promotion of innovative discourse surrounding mixed media production today. The UAG program provides several exhibition platforms for inter-generational and interdisciplinary dialogue. The Major Works of Art Series commissions original projects by canonical artists working today. The Emerging Artist Series features solo projects by a set of younger artists informed by the legacies showcased in the Major Works series. The Critical Aesthetics Program commissions new work by internationally renowned mid-career artists. Augmenting this inter-generational dialogue, UAG also produces larger thematic group exhibitions alternately showcasing historical and contemporary art and film projects. UAG further promotes an active dialogue between UCI residents and the local and international art communities through colloquia, conferences, visiting artist lectures and theme-based films series, all of which are open to the public. As the galleries continue to mature, they stand committed to being an experimental exhibition space different from the current - but largely traditional - art biennial and film festival platforms.
About UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts
As UCI’s creative laboratory, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts explores and presents the arts as the essence of human experience and expression, through art forms ranging from the most traditional to the radically new. The international faculty works across a wide variety of disciplines, partnering with others across the campus. National-ranked programs in art, dance, drama, and music begin with training but end in original invention. Students come to UCI to learn to be citizen-artists, to sharpen their skills and talents, and to become the molders and leaders of world culture. For more information, please visit www.arts.uci.edu.