Event DetailsMarch 1, 2021 – June 19, 2021
Herzliya museum of contemporary artHaBanim St 4, Herzliya, 4637904
All Inclusive focuses on the remnants of the pan-Israeli psychedelic and discordant experience that is the southern resort city of Eilat in the summer months, when tourists vacation there. Eilat is a kind of yearned-for illusion of recreation, heat, entertainment, and luxury, where everything goes and anything is possible. Michael Liani gazes at the town through a hermetically sealed and compressed filter, which surrounds us inescapably. He peels away the face of Israeli internal tourism and examines it, and takes apart and reassembles the Eilat holiday, in a bid to reveal the disparity between the ideal of freedom and liberation and the sense of detachment epitomized in this experience.
The exhibition presents the false illusion of luxury of the city’s hotel culture, and reveals the side that is less spoken about: the working conditions of the service staff, the town’s permanent residents, including lifeguards, street cleaners, beachfront stall-operators, the staff at the entertainment arcades, and restaurant waiting staff. The exhibition gazes at these people, who are forced to turn themselves into consumer products and attractions in order to survive, who together make up a one-off “mashup” tableau of humanity.
The video work Eilat Mami presents the story of a holiday in Eilat, whose segments are produced in various styles of photography and editing – ranging from docu/ mockumentary to psychomagical fantasy. It is the story of someone (whose name we never learn) who undergoes the Eilat experience for three days, from Thursday to Saturday – via fixed stations along the route, of the sort familiar to every Israeli who has done this journey – in which every day represents a particular element in the city and its touristic narrative.
Between the character’s experiences in the video and the artist’s own experiences, which are preserved as a set of souvenir-like still photographs, a mutual tension is created that reflects a tension between craving and disappointment. For Liani, photography serves as a therapeutic medium, sparking a discourse on tourism that has broken down. The images communicate in an aesthetic language that mediates the world of tourism through a colorful synthesis of illusion and photographic Pop Art. In this way, Liani introduces the aesthetics of the tourist experience into the museum discourse, through an installation that, based on a collective visual memory, exposes the nostalgic illusion that underlies it as a disenchanted image.
The entire exhibition space might be seen as a kind of underwater structure, in which the works present a split view of fantasy and reality. An image of a teenager smoking a hookah corresponds with the image of the smoke-wreathed caterpillar in the film Alice in Wonderland, which represents a utopia of idleness, smoking, magic mushrooms, and sun. The smoke that envelops the teenager’s gaze becomes a fog that permeates the exhibition itself – possibly symbolizing the smokescreen that the city puts up in an effort to meet the standards it has set for itself as the ultimate Israeli tourist city.