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Tears of Milk - exhibition text

The exhibition Sea of Tears is a collaborative artistic-experiential project by artists Ruti Singer and Noa Sheizaf, akin to a stroll through an enchanted garden where time loses its foothold. Past, present and future become intertwined, turning into a simultaneous presence. Singer and Sheizaf guide visitors along a journey that passes through four installations. The sequence of installations recounts the essence of a journey through the enchanted garden and symbolizes the simultaneous presence of beauty and sadness in our momentary existence on the continuum of eternity.

The four installations – “Eternity”, “Withering”, “Forest of Tears”, “Cleansing” – are assembled through the diverse positioning of photographs, paintings and drawings intertwined with an array of organic materials. In two of the installations, an ongoing cycle of decay and renewal will take place throughout the exhibition: In the installation “The Ghost Garden”, leaves crush under the feet of the visitors, who are then invited to actively participate in the “Cleansing” exhibition space. The materials used in the installations were collected from the artists' own private gardens. In these gardens, fruit trees were planted and blossomed, children ran about, and in the evenings they served as a place for calm and deeper contemplation of nature, the horizon, the seasons of the year and the changing of times. Like the garden in Lewis Carroll's “Wonderland” books, subterranean, restless streams of thought simmer in Singer and Sheizaf's enchanted garden, until they overflow and flood.

Sea of Tears

Creation of Singer's site-specific installation Forest of Tears was an extended meditative process of ink painting on hundreds of meters of white xuan paper. The strips of paper stream down, hanging on branches from the Longan tree in Singer's garden. Disconnected, they sway and flitter, reimagining a clearing in a forest of tree trunks. From the beginnings of philosophy and thought, the forest was conceived as a mysterious dream-like space that invites introspection and detachment from the clamor of daily existence, a secluded and meditative zone where space and light are limited. Interestingly, in the 1980's the Japanese government initiated the Shinrin-Yoku (cleansing in the forest) forestation project to promote the positive affect of forests on physical and mental wellbeing, an ecological remedy for the burnout of urban life, and to encourange people to connect to the expanses of nature. 


Moving through Singer's paper forest, we discover the secluded Cleansing installation. The small, sterile monochromatic space is fitted for a single person. Along the walls is a single strip of tiles drawn in delicate blue pencil, hinting at the Delft or Chinese ceramics. Dozens of mouths in varying expressions are drawn on the tiles:  Singer's mouth, disconnected from her face, like Alice's delusionary Cheshire cat. In this space the visitor is invited to cleanse spirit and body, let go of overload and strain and move on, towards the future. 

We witness an infinite cycle of blooming and withering, budding and aridity, life and death. If Venus is the essence, then nature sustains her over and over again, without tarrying over nostalgia or longing. Just as the people of Ancient Greece, we today stand in awe of the love and beauty that inevitably elude lingering on them for long. And we remain overwhelmed by our inability to internalize that we are just a fleeting part of this beauty.

Rotem Ritov

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