installation view at the Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv, 2009
Yochai Avrahami’s work, Cabinet, touches upon the line between vision and voice; between what is unfolded before us and the reality which is not in the known, visible spectrum, but rather requires listening. It brings together two life stories, significant parts of which are assimilated, without a guiding hand, into the Sonnenfeld Collection.
Cabinet presents the testimony of Erwin Doron, who, as a young boy, came to Israel from Germany with Aliyat Hanoar (youth immigration) to the Ludwig Tietz Trade School, joined the Hagana Underground, served as a Brigadier General in the IDF, and later was director of Beth Hatefutsoth and fulfilled assorted roles at Tel Aviv University, the United Jewish Appeal, and the Jewish Agency. His testimony is juxtaposed with the testimony of Iddo Gal, son of Uzi Gal, inventor of the famous Uzi submachine gun, and grandson of Erich Glass, who was a pilot and an aerial photographer during World War I, an art student at the Bauhaus, a photojournalist, an artist and art teacher in Kibbutz Yagur. Alongside these testimonies, the work presents the testimonies of others connected to the biographies of the two, people who met in Kibbutz Yagur in the 1930s. Through the story of the invention of the Uzi we become acquainted with some of the figures active in Israel upon its establishment, learning how they regard their past today. The motif of creativity runs through the plot—the creativity involved in the invention of the weapon as well as artistic creativity. At various points in the film Avrahami connects the memories of the interviewees of art school, which they believe continued the tradition of the Bauhaus, with their engagement in development of weaponry in Kibbutz Yagur’s arms caches.
Reference to the mode of presentation customary in didactic museums—a combination of exhibits, audio-visual aids, and the creation of a spatially unfolding narrative—enables Avrahami to undermine the very ability to re- count a tightly-knit historical narrative. The work constructs and deconstructs a narrative sequence, including testimonies from various sources—contra- dictory evidence, fragments of stories and memories. Even before the specific story presented in the work, all these focus on the very feasibility of presenting a narrative and educating in its light.
Galit Eilat & Eyal Danon