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6 Artists  6 Projects
Ido Michaeli; Bank Hapoalim Carpet, 2013

February 11, 2015-August 22, 2015

Location: Nathan Cummings Building for Modern and Contemporary Art

Artist: Ido Michaeli

Curator: Aya Miron

What is Bank Hapoalim Carpet? Is it an artifact from the old Bezalel museum or a contemporary object? Who made it? Is it an advertisement for one of Israel's largest banks or does it in fact undermine the bank?

Ido Michaeli convened a wealth of images - taken from sources that include Israeli currency, archaeological finds, socialist posters, and Renaissance art - in his sketch for the carpet, which was then woven in Afghanistan. The result is a curious hybrid of conflicting outlooks and ideologies. The carpet depicts the bank's architectural structure as an allegory of social structure. At the bottom are those who are getting things done, the workers ("the workers' bank" is the literal meaning of Bank Hapoalim, originally founded as the socialist Zionist enterprise). Above them is the middle class, and on the highest level we find the decision-makers, their faces a melding of Zionist leaders and figures from world history. Thus the work bears multiple imprints: those who were responsible for the quoted images, the artist Ido Michaeli, and the weavers in Afghanistan - whom Michaeli considers a notable part of this long production chain. The carpet's jumbled imagery, a carnival of masks and impersonations, produces an intricate web of tales and folk sayings, facts and fabrication, ideology and knowledge. Confusing truth and fiction, Michaeli disrupts the order and meaning of his sources to create something entirely new and endlessly intriguing.

The accompanying video work combines documentary and staged scenes. It opens a window onto the craft of carpet-making and presents the surprising, somewhat absurd encounter between the Afghan workers and Zionist symbols. The voyage of Bank Hapolim Carpet is documented up until the moment when it is carried through the Israel Museum by Michaeli and the sons of Yitzhak Mattat, the carpert dealer who brokered the Afghan connection. Passing the objects on display (including a few that featured in the  carpet), they reach the gallery housing E.M. Lilien's full-scale sketch for a Zionist carpet entitled "An Allegorical Wedding" - which was never woven - and hang the new carpet in its place.

Handwoven wool and silk; video, 10 mins.; app with information about the images.
Purchase, "here & Now" Contemporary Israeli Art Acquisitions Committee, Israel