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A compelling discussion can result from the merging of historical artifacts and contemporary innovation in an age where technology is constantly changing how art is expressed. In order to examine existing narratives in the fields of feminism and fetishism, Ruth Patir, a visionary artist, revives the past through 3D movies and archaeological artifacts. The body of work by Patir challenges us to consider how archaeology and colonial pillage are used to support and refute current narratives, provoking reflection on the intricate relationships between the past and present.
“Marry Fuck Kill”, 2019
“Marry Fuck Kill” (2019) is a standout piece that showcases Patir’s talent. This piece’s interesting fusion of archaeology and technology may initially seem out of place. The film juxtaposes historical artifacts with current technological artifacts by transplanting archaeological figures, notably the Judean pillar figurines, into the modern environment. The goddesses of fertility and motherhood from Judean times are represented by these figures, which were discovered during archaeological excavations in Israel. They are distinguished by their characteristic chest and pillar configuration. But Patir’s inventiveness rests in how she handles these statues. She breathes life into these terracotta artifacts through animation, transforming them into vehicles for the voices of living people.
The mother of the artist acts as an unexpected conduit for these legendary beings, giving them humour and life. In a curious turn of meetings, Patir interviews her own mother, who reflects on her earlier experiences while weaving gender, care, labour, and technological themes throughout. As Patir’s mother struggles with the realisation that her appearance in the video is mostly due to her gender, rather than her uniqueness, a stunning aspect of this story comes into focus. The tension between the past objectification of women and the current push for empowerment is captured in this juxtaposition.
It’s an effort to uncover the untold stories, to humanise the artefacts, and to challenge the very function they serve in forming the collective consciousness. “Marry Fuck Kill” prompts us to explore the narrative potential of objects trapped in the annals of history.
Her involvement with the Dayan Collection, an immense collection of antiquities that originally belonged to Moshe Dayan, a divisive and extravagant Israeli figure, had a significant influence on Patir’s work. Dayan, who gained notoriety for his participation in the Yom Kippur War, gathered this collection, frequently via illegal manners. The analysis of this collection by Patir is the basis of her larger investigation of the fetishization and objectification of women in both historical and contemporary situations.
“Love Letters to Ruth”
Password: love and marriage
In “Love Letters to Ruth” (2018), Patir explores the nuanced personality of Moshe Dayan, a well-known general who kept a collection of ancient artifacts. She emphasises Dayan’s machismo and the pervasive military culture of Israeli men by turning him into a 3D avatar. As Dayan’s private letters —originally addressed to his wife Ruth— are modified to address Patir, emphasising the unsettling similarities between her name and that of Dayan’s wife, the work develops a multilayered depth.
But Patir’s emphasis on the female figures in Dayan’s collection gives her art a profound new depth. She destroys the historical context that reduced these figures to ornamental objects of desire by giving them a voice and agency. This reclaiming of power is as much a feminist assertion as it is a response to colonial exploitation. An effective technique in Patir’s artistic toolbox, anachronism allows for a fun yet eerie interaction between the past and the present, thereby bridging the gap between viewers of the present-day and ancient artifacts.
Through Patir’s artistic vision, we are transported into a world where the lines between past and present are fluid. She moves over the complicated terrain of narrative construction’s relationship to archaeology. Unlike earlier Israeli artists who used artifacts from the past to promote a feeling of national identity, Patir follows a different path. She challenges the established narratives by focusing on the underrepresented, unheard, and silent.
Patir’s art is a poignant signal that the narratives we construct from the past are not static; they evolve and transform as we engage with them in a society still dealing with the effects of colonialism. Ruth Patir encourages us to critically reconsider the narratives we inherit and to rethink the potential for agency and empowerment within historical contexts through her ground-breaking integration of technology, archaeology, and feminism. Her work is an example of dynamic storytelling, showing us how even the oldest artifacts can have meaning and resonance in the web of contemporary narratives.
Written by Rebecca Routman, with Adam Broomberg, Melanie Pyne and Dahab Kashi. On behalf of Artists + Allies x Hebron (AAH). AAH is Issa Amro (Hebron) & Adam Broomberg (Berlin)
Aldouby, H. (2022). Appropriating Canaanism: Ruth Patir’s Reanimation of Judean Pillar Figurines. Arts, 11(5), 108. https://doi.org/10.3390/arts11050108
Patir, R. (2023). Selected Works and Exhibitions 2023 [Portfolio]. Retrieved from [https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S6TWEmtW5WYjGb_c81_0RLmRJs-faorC/view]
(Cover foto: Ruth Patir, “Marry Fuck Kill”, 2019, poster)