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16 Mar 2010

Shelf Life at Haifa Museum of Art

Shelf Life
Haifa Museum of Art


February 6, 2010 – July 17, 2010
Sun – Wed: 10:00 am. – 4:00 pm.
Thu: 4:00 pm. – 10:00 pm.
Fri: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 pm.
Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm.


+972 (0)4 8523255

Haifa Museum of Art
26 Shabbetai Levi Street
Haifa, 33043

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Shelf Life is the central exhibition in an exhibition cluster concerned with collecting, collections and collectors, which opened in February 2010 at the Haifa Museum of Art. The exhibition demonstrates how contemporary Israeli and international artists relate in their works to a range of collecting practices; it explores the aesthetic syntax of different collections, and examines some of the psychological aspects of collecting and of the artist-collector's obsessive world. The works included in the exhibition reflect the aesthetic of 'collections,' and also capture something of the thrust towards excessive accumulation and the pleasures related to satisfying the desire to possess.

The main motivation for collecting practices is the search for meaning and the organization of the world around us. To this one may add a love of objects, a drive to control and a need to preserve and remember. Different types of collections have existed since the dawn of civilization - ranging from those discovered in underground Pharaonic chambers to the cabinets of curiosity created by European nobles during the Renaissance and the museums of the 18th century. In the course of the 20th century many artists, including Dada and Fluxus artists, made use of collections, either as a source of inspiration or as an integral part of their work.

Contemporary art in recent years has expressed a growing need to examine the meaning of the term 'collection' as it relates to memory, to the fear of death, to classifying knowledge and to paradoxes related to the gap between nature and culture. Shelf Life also analyzes collecting as a philosophical endeavor, an analytic tool, a professional activity and source of pleasure. It questions what transforms the hoarding of objects into a 'collection,' and what drives artists to collect. The 'collecting' phenomenon is mapped using terms such as gathering, hoarding, accumulating, classifying, cataloguing, ordering and endowing with meaning, alongside ideas related to abundance and excess. The exhibition thus examines how actions that involve organizing and classifying methods, which appear as obsessive and related to policing, also reflect the creation or recreation of content and meaning.

The exhibition includes works by David Adika, Tali Amitai-Tabib, Amnon David Ar, Gili Avissar, Elmgreen & Dragset, Gideon Gechtman, Michal Heiman, Irit Hemmo, Damien Hirst, Erez Israeli, Esther Knobel, Robert Kusmirowski, Dana Levy, Ido Michaeli, Tomer Sapir, Michal Shamir, Ronit Shany, Doron Solomons.

Curators: Tami Katz-Freiman and Rotem Ruff 

The additional exhibitions in this cluster include two exhibitions of works from the Museum collection: The New Jewish Countenance, a study of Jewish portraits created over the past 100 years (curator: Gideon Ofrat), and an exhibition of portraits by the painter Menachem Shemi, in which he captured his wife (curator: Daliah Belkine); In Detail, an exhibition featuring the wide-ranging collections of the Jerusalem-based collector Arnie Druck (curator: Yeala Hazut); The Meir Agassi Museum, an exhibition featuring the fictive museum created by the late writer, artists and journalist Meir Agassi, which houses the entirety of his artistic oeuvre (curator: Yaniv Shapira); A Disturbed Economy, an exhibition of works by artists who undermine accepted methods of classification through imaginary narratives (curator: Ilana Tenenbaum); and Adrenalin, an exhibition of works by two young artists – Eden Bannet and Assaf Evron – who expand the definition of 'collecting' (curator: Rotem Ruff).