Ruthi Helbitz Cohen | The Sky Fell on Me
Curator: Yael Guilat
According to Genesis 1, the heavens above and the earth below came into being in the course of the Creation. The space between them is a condition for an order that would quickly be breached. The expulsion from the Garden of Eden would bring life and death, love and lust, loss and yearning. The Sky Fell on Me is a site-specific installation to which one descends. The descent and the time lingered within the installation propose to rethink relations between the upper and lower realms, the characters that tenant the liminal zone, and the possibility of transitioning between them as an act of love and trust in the power of art to engender change.
Ruthi Helbitz-Cohen straddles these realms, elevating and lowering dark female magicians from an imaginary netherworld, on the one hand, and beloved women who are real, on the other. She offers a fragile, sensitive and fragmentary version of the endness of life and the perishable body. She comes up with an art that can breathe spirit into substance and bring crumpled paper to life. In the central piece—‘Or Zarua, sown leather, a play on an expression in Psalms 97:11, or zarua, sown light—the artist props up a pink silhouette with the help of a flower that erupts from it—or might that be an arrow nailed into it? She produces a fictitious scene in a real space of death and rebirth: a reversal of worlds on large loose canvases hanging overhead, where terrifying mighty female magicians and witches shed tears of gold, accompanied by an entourage of insects, mushrooms, organs, and skeletons that seem to be fleeing from an ancient curse.
Facing all of these and gazing up through the glass are My Beloveds, a group of women—some harvested from the artist’s own life cycle and others from public life—through whom she rephrases her portrait: that of a woman. The mingling of materials is akin to the mingling of worlds; unwilling to acquiesce in loss as it faces material and spatial change across the way. Therefore, the sculpture/bench To the Last Note does not memorialize a place but rather signifies one; it may even give the void the sense of being a place, as if wishing to sculpt time and memory in response to the act of yearning.