The long arm of the Fundamentalist Gunpowder Printer prints texts in Arabic and in Hebrew – words and sentences that contain central ideas of the monotheistic faith in Islam, and similar ideas from Jewish sacred texts. The words are collected from blogs of extremists operating in the area, which are scanned in real time through the internet by means of a special algorithm written for that purpose. These are loaded words such as “Allah akhbar,” “The Lord is one,” “jihad,” “Judgment Day,” “exhortation,” “salvation,” and “immigration,” which appear in these sources. Propaganda mechanisms form both sides of the political scene use these words in the national-religious context, and often load them with explosive messages, and thus drive their recipients to action. Violent messages are given aesthetic characteristics, through the choice of typography of ornamental character. The Arabic and Hebrew texts are intertwined, and produce kaleidoscopic forms resembling arabesques. This is not ordinary printing powder, but rather gunpowder, which brings out the metaphoric “explosiveness” of the printed words, and gives them material expression. In this work, Bartal plays with the meanings of the messages of the various propaganda systems, and moves between the cultural space in whose framework they operate, and the political unconscious that exists in parallel to them.
Neo-Bartalism, solo exhibition, 2017
Neo-Brutalism integrates techniques of new media – surveillance technologies, robotics, image processing and machine learning – with videos and physical objects produced with low-tech tehnologies. This is in many ways a nihilistic exhibition, but poetic and full of humor. It deals defiantly with mechanisms of control and propaganda, with capitalist mechanisms, with feminism, religion, stereotypes of the Israeli character, and with the Arab-Israeli conflict. It presents clichés and at the same time ridicules them and deconstructs them to a level that is empty of content. It is at once political and a-political, concrete and abstract, deals with global issues and touches on the most delicate facets of social and political reality in Israel.