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Oded Hirsch at Haifa Museum of Art

Oded Hirsch's works are based on detailed scripts for absurd situations. He invents challenges and problems that need to be solved, providing a complete scenario for their solution. The solution is usually just as far-fetched as the challenge, and the works leave the viewer wondering about the very necessity of these actions: Why is it necessary to pull out a tractor buried in the ground, lift it upwards, and introduce it into the museum?
In the absence of other answers, the main reason seems to be the action itself. Hirsch’s photographic, video, and sculptural works are always centered on people laboring: carrying, digging, hoisting, and sweating. The challenge is indeed absurd and the solution awkward, but the participants' action is real, and is characterized by manual labor carried out with the aid of obsolete low-tech means. The groups of people that Hirsch brings together manage to meet the difficult challenges he poses. Each group member has a clear role, and together they fuse into a formidable machine that can overcome the impossible.
Hirsch does not invent the wheel, but only checks whether it is still useful. He touches on some of the formative principles of the Zionist ethos—including manual labor, grouping around a common goal, and self-effacement for the common good—examining their relevance in present-day Israel. The focus on father-son relations also reflects the relationship between the “State Generation” and the generation that followed. The wheel has turned: the handsome young sabras with their unruly forelocks have gone bald and grown a belly, and their children and grandchildren "invent" the same old wheel, which turns round and round without purpose.
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