Reflective drape curtain, engine, 3 stretched canvases, 2 C-Prints mounted on Plexiglass in metal structures; 2 tinted black MDF and aluminum sculptures.
Video of drape curtain can be seen here (or just scroll down).
Read full text by Gilly Karjevsky:
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THAT MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Gilly Karjevsky for Alona Rodeh New Positions, 2018, Art Cologne.
They stand there afraid and shaking, eager to have the wizard’s ear. Flames, lights and sounds engulf the room in a grand performance of power, a spectacle of magical omnipotencey. Then Toto, the non-human agent, unfazed by the machinery, informed by non-visual senses, is drawn to the corner of the room where it pulls the curtain on what have become some of the most central metaphors of our time - the string puller, the deceit of the machine, the lie of “science”, the man behind the curtain. The wizard of Oz is exposed and this moment of collapse and revelation is framed by the flowing theatrical movement of a simple shiny curtain. In the context of the famous hollywood classic, it is hard to not perceive this curtain as the silver screen itself, which got its name from the material it was made of - a fabric woven of glass beads and painted with reflective material on one side.
Some twenty years earlier, in another hideout, another magician makes it onto the pages of phosphorous history. Robert Switzer, a young Californian chemistry student, was forced to remain in the cellar of his pharmacist father following a severe head injury that led his doctors to recommend he heals in darkness. It was the perfect location to continue and develop his magic show on which he worked with his brother Joseph and which included a dark stage and ultraviolet light. While using the ultraviolet light next to the chemicals stored in the basement of the pharmacy, the brothers discovered some of them glow in the dark. They experimented with solutions and created the first fluorescent yellow color. Years later this paint would become what we know as day-glow.
These stories of imagery and trickery converge to frame Rodeh's latest installment of the project "Safe and Sound" where she explores the histories of reflective and phosphorus technologies, their origin in magic, and their absolute adaptation into security and safety industries. Rodeh herself has always been the man behind the curtain, constructing technological and material performances without performers, set to original sound-tracks, bringing life to objects in their own oriented ontology. This multi-volumed research led her to examine the architectural manifestations of safety measures such as glow-in-the-dark escape routes and reflective architectural technology in the first chapter presented at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin in 2013. The second chapter which looks at the links between strobe lights and alarms in clubbing, popular culture and safety regulations was presented together with a publication at the Grimmuseum, Berlin in 2014 as well as a lecture performance at Transmediale festival for Art and Digital Culture. The third installment at ABC art fair catalogued high-visibility workwear and the visual language of safety work in urban settings, while the fourth chapter of the research led Rodeh into a year long residency with Fire department of Berlin, which concluded a large scale public work, a video work and a second publication about the mysterious chemical phenomenon of fire (not a natural element!).
Off-the-shelf technology plays an important part in Alona Rodeh’s exploration of the material and visual culture of safety, a culture which has surprising but strong affiliations with clubbing, fashion, theatre and architecture. It is the culture of our times. Not just through fear politics and rhetorics, but through the objects and environments, the images and sounds shaping our lives in cities today. We are blindly dominated by safety, performed for us and on us as a magic trick, as an illusion. As we walk away from the booth in the fair, we are met with a photograph of a man from the back. Facing but not having access to the booth itself, his position is that of tension - will he ever get to peek behind the curtain? Will we?