Video artist Michal Rovner (b. 1957, Israel) showcases multi screen artworks which marry painterly abstract aesthetics and new media technology to deliver Panorama at Pace London. She inspires viewers to reconsider the definitions and limitations of abstraction and new media through this exhibition and creates a highly unique and groundbreaking genre of contemporary art. At the core of this body of work are the moving figures emerging and systematically walking in linear patterns across the image plane, as if on the surface of the screen, to form the abstract composition telling a narrative with no beginning or end. Rovner creates a non-narrative where the viewer observes a story in progress—one that we are privy to watch but not to fully understand.
In an interview with Pace, Rovner explains her process in creating these pieces: “I’m looking at a newspaper, I’m watching television. I want to know, I need to know what is going on in the world…Everything is shown, but you never really see it” (March 2015). One piece in particular of this solo show highlights the role of us as the viewer and the non-narrative we bear witness to. Untitled 1 (Cypress) (2015) exemplifies the tromp l’oeil effect of Rovner’s work as the image comes to life on the eight LCD screens with its subtle ghostly movements of shadow-like figures.
While gazing, the viewer peers through the tall, gracefully swaying cypress trees while rows of figures walk in line with each other in the background. We do not know where they are walking to, why they are walking, or even whom these figures are, but we are compelled to stand and stare, searching for the greater narrative, which, of course, we will never come to learn. The desire to ascertain the story in Rovner’s work calls our attention to the current social landscape in which we are constantly hungry for information, whilst also being continually fed it by the thousands of media outlets pouring out messages for our glutinous consumption. Rovner’s work asks: how much of this information— how many of these stories—are we actually understanding? What are we watching? What narrative do we believe we are witnessing? Perhaps an even more unsettling realization through these pieces: are we the figures being mirrored back to ourselves? The weaving of the figures into the fabric of the composition recalls modern abstract painting while simultaneously incorporating a challenge to traditional artistic narrative, resulting in a pioneering contemporary practice of painterly moving images.
Rovner has also recently been commissioned for a permanent video fresco, entitled Passaggi/Passages, in Stazione Municipio Naples, Italy, which will be unveiled June 2015 as the largest urban art project in Europe. More information on this commission can be found here.
Panorama will be showing at Pace London until 15th June.