Assam Abu-Shakra

Dogs and Airplanes, Israel, 1988

silk screen 230x190

Two dappled animals howl at the heavens at night. Two mythological animals, possibly predators, act out an erotic mating ritual, hark their yowling, when it combines with the roar of a formation of jet fighters passing overhead. Archaic nature and modernistic technology coalesce into a new nature, paradoxical and insufferable. The monumentality of the two primeval creatures, ruling in format to its furthermost reaches – from earth to heavens and from side to side – respond in miniature to the mechanical “birds” on their way to propagate death. A neo-expressionist picture of a young artist, an Israeli Arab, who translates, in the 1980's, the realism of warfare into natural, gruesomely timeless pictures. Here, the erotic mating ritual is doomed to failure. In the tension between sex and death, victory is reserved for death; and in a primeval and primitive world, where the heavens were intended for migratory birds, military-technological man forced his hostile terrorist reign on the heavens. Pastoralities of animalism thus cipher devastation; nature doomed to destruction, Eros to extermination. Proliferation and reproduction apply henceforth only to the swarm of bombers. The saga of raw and healthy nature that evolved into a civilization riddled with aggression. Assam Abu Shakra views the aggressive culture of his time and place as an accursed mutation of power-oriented nature.

Dr. Gideon Ofrat