Dubi Harel, Rearranging the Chairs…, curator: Farid Abu Shakra

Dubi Harel | Rearranging the Chairs…

Curator: Farid Abu Shakra

Paradoxes and Ironic Imitation

Dubi Harel’s works reveal the paradox that is inherent to human behavior and values. Armed with laughter, madness, delusions, and parody, they deconstruct the assets on which contemporary political regimes base themselves in all fields and at all levels. The works strive to undress reality and expose its contradictions and the problematics of daily use of politics as something self-evident.

Harel adopts black comedy and nihilism as a tragic philosophy and uses it to denounce the absurdity of reality and social conventions. By emphasizing the decline of values that humankind is experiencing, he attempts to struggle against blunders and failures—and to accomplish this he uses irony. He emphasizes everything that is aberrant, rundown, geared to the masses, and half-baked in trite clichés and thus underscores the weird and the deviant in society’s conduct and language. Even as he mocks reality, he searches for a possible future.

In the 1950s, black humor began to permeate all fields of the arts. Protest movements around the world mobilized it for their struggles and used it as a tool in their war on reactionary outlooks and canon culture.

About the work Rerranging the Chairs on the Deck of the Titanic Harel writes: “For years I’ve been fond of this expression as a way to describe the political situation in our country, and the more years pass the more accurate it becomes. Back when I engaged in figurative painting, naturally I began to use the metaphor of a sinking ship with a crowd of people arranging chairs. These initial attempts ended up in the trash bin. I found the contrast between arranging chairs and a foundering vessel hard to describe. At the end of a process, I realized that we’re even worse off than the passengers aboard the Titanic, because we’re not innocent travelers who’ve tumbled into an unexpected iceberg. In fact, we are actively suicidal.”

The second metaphor of the exhibition, atomic bombs, is a paraphrase of a line from a poem by Shalom Hanoch—what do you do when you get up in the morning and see the end of the world on the horizon? The very same things! By using picturesque, figurative, and ironic language, Harel connects between rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic to having a good time with a bomb in the background.

The printing and etching were done at the Gottesman Etching Center at Kibbutz Kabri, with the help of Ofra Raif, Rafit Shefer, and Haggai Oz, who worked with me with exemplary patience and devotion for years.