Weekend Portfolio: Tal Barel
The preservation of history is largely mediated by institutions, which hold the authority to grant access to artifacts from the past. In this way, museums and other establishments define the way we interact with and experience these relics of history.
Artifacts are presented in a neutral aesthetic context which we now accept as a standard for this kind of display. Without the indexing of labels or wall text, moving through a museum can feel like a stream of objects indistinguishable from one another: similar in their form (figures, jugs, architectural elements) and material (stone, marble, bronze, clay), presented on plinths and in glass boxes. Methodical and uniform display affirms the historical weight of these objects. Despite the differing purposes for which they were made, and the sometimes large gaps in dates of production, the sheer multitude can lend itself to a kind of visual homogenization.
Odyssey is a collection of collaged images sourced from a catalog published by the Metropolitan Museum, dedicated to classic works from the Mediterranean region. The artifacts in the catalog are documented in a way that mimics museum presentation in its neutrality and palette. By removing the objects from their backdrop and placing the cutouts on top of other catalog pages, I created hybrid artifacts, poetic juxtapositions, some convincing as objects on their own, others behaving more as illusions. Their reoccurring shapes, colors and materials retain a recognizable historic aura, while also revealing a pattern of an iconic language used over the course of thousands of years. The series is its own imaginary, alternative archive, with abstractions as objects and the absolute of History as its timeline.