Barbed Hula, 2001 (video still), single screen projection, 1:48 minutes, sound, color
Sigalit Landau's works are based on extreme contrasts and states charged with symbolic meaning. Her spectacular installations, and the sculptures and video works she has created in recent years, are all part of a meta-narrative; they seem to emerge out of a rich mythological and apocalyptical environment. In Barbed Hula, a naked woman is seen standing on the Tel Aviv Beach in the pale light of dawn. Using her stomach muscles and pelvis, she twirls a hula hoop made of barbed wire around her hips. Her face is cropped out of the frame, as are her legs, which are cropped just below her thighs. Only her torso moves; her thin, solid, somewhat boyish body circles in an endless loop, which mesmerizes the viewer as he anxiously follows this harmful and painful action.
In this work, Landau touches upon two radically opposed poles of memory. The first concerns an innocent childhood memory of playing with a hula hoop - a game that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s; the second concerns Israeli collective memory, in which barbed wire and the loss of freedom are associated both with the Holocaust and with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a larger cultural context, this endless circular motion is a metaphor of sorts for the Sisyphean struggle of human existence, in both the physical and the psychic sense. This work was filmed on one of Tel Aviv's southern beaches, on a coastal strip that symbolizes leisure, sanity and normalcy. Barbed Hula thus condenses and sums up the complex nature of contemporary Israeli identity. This identity evolves on a continuum between absolute secularism and between religious and national beliefs - while the past and the trauma of memory continue to spread their shadow over members of the second and third generations. The new Israeli identity performed in this work is encircled by past memories that cut into the live flesh, penetrating into the present and threatening the future.
Sigalit Landau was born in Jerusalem (1969). She holds a B.F.A. from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem (1990-1994), and has studied art at The Cooper Union, New York (1993). She has held numerous solo exhibitions at venues including The Israel Museum, Jerusalem (1995); Thread Waxing Space, New York (2001); the Armory Show, New York (2004); The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2004); and Kunsthalle Helsinki, Finland (2005). Her works have been included in numerous group exhibitions at venues including Documenta in Kassel (1997); the Venice Biennale (1997); The Museum of Modern Art, Saitama, Japan (2001); Martin־Gropius־Bau, Berlin (2004); PS1 Center for Contemporary Art, New York (2006); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2006); and Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York (2007). She lives and works in Tel Aviv.