VENICE,2023, Artist Book by Merav Shinn Ben-Alon
Graphic Design and Production: Dana Gez
Text Editing: Shoham Smith
English Version and Editing: Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann
Hebrew Editing: Rachel Perets
An artist book that is a hybrid of an art catalog and a graphic novel. An object rich with images and materiality featuring a wide range of drawings, collages, and oil paintings from three decades of creation, focusing on the body, sexuality, vulnerability, eroticism, and feminism. It is the story of a young woman, an art student who is sexually assaulted while visiting the 1986 Venice Art Biennale.
The book consists of five chapters: Tel Aviv 2017, Venice 1986, Notes on Technique, Index, and Epilogue. Each chapter is constructed as a palimpsest within an erased art book, portraying the life and work of one of the great masters.
The narrative text (English/Hebrew, opening from the left) is located at the bottom of each page, forming a sequence that connects its various chapters and replaces the customary curatorial text.
Following the same principle the Index chapter is unraveled, as it does not serve its intended purpose as a key for visual reading of the images but rather reveals a narrative about a forbidden collection.
The images’ presence dominates the majority of the book, covering some of the layers, conducting dialogue of beauty and resistance with each other, and building a morbid and multifaceted relationship with the visible and erased texts in the book.
By the unfolding of gender motif over three decades of work, the enduring presence of trauma is revealed. It is an act of reclaiming in a way that builds an artistic mechanism striving to reveal the 'truth' while confronting Western cultural representations of power: the man, the artist, the curator, and the teacher.
The editing process juxtaposes iconic works with works that were destroyed or never exhibited, collapsing the chronological timeline. An object of a new form is constructed, creating an enigmatic, unsettling, non-linear reading/viewing experience that is unresolved.
This book was published with the support of The Israel Lottery Council for Culture & Arts