Orit Ishay: Deer Country

Deer Country is the first solo exhibition by artist Orit Ishay (*1961) in the Czech Republic that presents her significant previous series of both local and international context from the last decade.

Ishay examines reality through images taken from her surroundings, whether direct photographs or processed images, either by working alone or collaborating with communities. Her investigation and use of possible forms of representation and interpretation aim at raising social and political questions relevant to Israeli society.

Ishay’s works are very personal, closely linked to the place of their origin, yet at the same time they have a universal character. Ishay deals in the interactions of man and place, the influences prevalent in the formation of national identity and consciousness. The social, political and security-related changes of the contemporary world are linked to her works, making them both local and globally relevant.

Her work process involves severing and reattaching connections to construct art pieces displayed in spaces where the immediate impression is that of beauty — but this is merely a façade. Ishay’s approach is based on historical traditions relating to photography and the creation of images, one she has further developed in her unique way. Presenting a manner both seductive and deceptive, she requires viewers to decipher her code. By deconstructing and then reconstruing anew, she instills places and images with new meanings, providing viewers with a broad horizon of knowledge, and presenting in her remarkable way both center and periphery, individual and community, nation and army, city and kibbutz, early settlers and new immigrants, bereavement and hope, past and present. Her works provide a deep acquaintance into the nation and its State, demonstrating to viewers the force of life undefinable by borders, religion or gender.

Each of the two gallery floors is divided into individualized compartments presenting art works in a variety of mediums, including photographs, etchings, video works, and an installation — single chapters from a story sequence stretching the length of a long time axis, creating a logical evolution and interconnecting syntactic links. In keeping with the nature of the works, the bottom floor presents a monochromatic array, while the upper floor displays works in color.

The exhibition title — “Deer Country” — addresses one of the terms used for the Land of Israel, mentioned in the Book of Daniel (Daniel 11:16) as a metaphor, an animal of nobility, a symbol of a glorious and beautiful land.

The Israel Postal Service adopted this symbol, the figure of a deer, as its logo. And similarly to the red postal vans, bright red and with the deer logo, travel a network that reaches every destination and settlement — so does Ishay’s work metaphorically encompass the country, giving this exhibition its name, and the entirety of real and symbolic meanings its carries with it.

Dalia Levin

press release