Curator: Ram Ozeri
Video installation: Astha Butail
“In the Absence of Writing reconnects us to a world of coexistence, where knowledge is shared and created anew through a deep and sustained process of interaction.” Astha Butail’s site-specific experimental project In the Absence of Writing was presented at the Gujral Foundation (New Delhi) in February 2019. The video installation Of a Flux of Hopes, one component of the project, is on show at the Jerusalem International YMCA during the Jerusalem Biennale 2019. In 2017, Butail won the BMW Art Journey award that enabled her to travel and observe the oldest living traditions, which date from 6500-3000 BC. She travelled to Iran, Israel and within India, her homeland. During her research, she focused on the Indian Vedas, Zoroastrian Avesta and Torah she’be’al peh (the Jewish Oral tradition) in their respective languages: Sanskrit, Avestan and Hebrew.
The Jerusalem Biennale was proud to host Butail during her visit to Jerusalem and support her interviews with and filming of practitioners of Torah she’be’al peh. Butail travelled with a mobile tent that served as a sound space, to which the artist invited scholars, community elders, teachers and students to recite and perform. By freeing videos of sound, she alludes to the vacuum we live in, which is devoid of connections with ancient languages and cultures.
In Of a Flux of Hopes,Butail focuses on the books that in a collective performance serve as an inventory of memory to be passed onto the youngest individual in the community. In the display, the wall projection overlaps with another video playing in a cabinet – the India video juxtaposed with Iran, the Iran video juxtaposed with Jerusalem and the Jerusalem video juxtaposed with India - a recurring trope within Butail’s oeuvre of “a story within a story.”
Jerusalem International YMCA
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