Last weekend, my core homies and I paid a visit to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Though one of our gang was drawn by the German Expressionist exhibit, I felt compelled to make a beeline straight to Anselm Kiefer’s Shevirat Hekelim, Breaking of the Vessels. I had never seen Kiefer’s work in person before and knew only the littlest bit about his previous exhibitions.
Now comes the hard part… how do I convey, in words, the feeling of standing in that space? How can I begin to speak about art?
The catch is that the speechless feeling is what I didn’t know I wanted to get out of the experience. With dance performances, of which I see a whole lot, there is always something to say. Because of my knowledge of the form, I almost never feel that I am rendered without comment. With paintings, especially enormous, overwhelming ones like the ones in Kiefer’s show; it is much harder for me to find words to remark with. And yet, I have to say something about this experience.
A teacher and brilliant choreographer I encountered last summer said that the most wonderful thing we can hope for with our art is to put the audience or spectator into a state where they want to speak about the piece but have no words. They then are forced to find new ways of talking, new combinations of phrases, new sentence structures.
Until that day, I didn’t fully understand the concept.
I stood there, in the basement of the new wing of the museum, in a huge, white, air-conditioned, cavernous room and was swept off of my feet. The vertigo that took hold of me was a completely new sensation. The depth of those paintings, the colors, the strange familiarity of the images lifted me out of my regular Tel Aviv afternoon into a state of disoriented wonderment.
This is my public thank you note to Mr. Kiefer. I am happy to live in a world with your work.
Anselm Kiefer’s exhibit is open at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art through April 2012. For more information, visit www.tamuseum.com.