Nuclear Cities - Exhibition Text - Minshar, Tel Aviv, 2013.
In her second solo exhibition, Michal Rubens examines places and moments in history that have been abandoned, that have frozen in time and almost disappeared. These places and moments have left imprints on our reality, which Rubens closely observes through her work, giving them new, haunted life.
Coincidentally, the exhibit's opening date is April 25, the anniversary of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The Chernobyl disaster led to the evacuation of the entire city of Pripyat in the Ukraine. This city, the inspiration for Rubens' paintings, was a "nuclear city", built specifically to house the power plant's employees and their families. Pripyat was abandoned and has remained exactly as it was then—a testament to the tragedy took place there.
This is the point of departure for Rubens' paintings, in which not a single human figure appears. Her paintings portray the abandoned plant, shown from a distance, and an abandoned playground, shown from up close. The paintings do not convey a panicked escape, but rather suggest remnants of life and nature, silent and disturbing in their beauty.
Scenery covers up the absence of action. It usually hides emptiness, but here it exposes it. If the work had sound it would be electronic, like an internal scream, a grating whine of hypnotic fear.
These paintings mourn, with no sentimentality, everything that has frozen in time and stopped in place. What should be free and dynamic, like a beautiful, mesmerizing Ferris wheel, has become an ice castle. It doesn't matter if it's a city or a country that has taken its own life, or a promising childhood that has left nothing but a shell, inadequate scenery — Zeev Engelmayer on the paintings of Michal Rubens
Curator: Sari Golan Sarig