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Monkey Business

Collaboration with Shir Moran

Curated by Ishai Shapira-Kalter 

Ventilator Gallery, January 2018

With a series of five new paintings hung in the exhibition, Shir Moran and Shiri Tarko use principles of
medieval illuminated manuscripts as anecdotes for the investigation of different subjects such as
femininity, animosity and morality. The unique handicraft of illuminated manuscripts that was once drawn
by nuns and primarily considered as ornamentation, illustration or decoration to the written words of god,
or to the historicized legacies of royalties, here, is reconsidered by the artists as painting. The Images,
symbols and texts that are seen in the artists' paintings may refer to images that are commonly found on
pages of illuminated manuscripts. They are sometimes pleasant, romantic, erotic, heroic or harmonic,
whereas simultaneously, they present diabolical scenes – an inventory of compositions that belongs to a
world in which animals dominated humanity, where violence, torture, plagues, sex rituals and death were
conditioned to belief, obedience, mastery and sovereignty.


In Monkey Business, each painting also refers to a chosen session from Jacques Derrida's last seminar The
Beast and the Sovereign. Originally presented in 2002-2003, in The Beast and the Sovereign Derrida
pursues relations between solitude, insularity, cannibalism, boredom and death as they supposedly affect
humans and animals in different ways. Derrida's seminal seminar and the interest in medieval illuminated
manuscripts motivated the artists' own process of collaboration through the medium of painting. Raw
pieces of thick leather are treated by Shir Moran and Shiri Tarko with markers and gold leaf. The leather
refers to the traditional materiality of vellum – a prepared animal skin used as a surface for writing; to
produce scrolls, codices or books. In that sense, animalism exist both as the symbolic and conceptual
subjects of their painting and its actual surface. Every painting is constructed as a spreadsheet of a book. It
is an allegorical diptych full of layered meanings which consists two dichotomized "pages" that organize a
codex of symbols, calligraphies and quotations.


The series of paintings is installed on an existent long wall that was constructed as a grid of windows. In
fact, this "rear window" installation allows the gaze to constantly dart between foreground and background.
The allegorical scenes, animals' characteristics and architectural spaces that are depicted inside Shir
Moran's and Shiri Tarko's paintings naturally move outside, to the real cityscape of South Tel Aviv.

Text by Ishai Shapira Kalter.

All  images are courtesy of the artists and Ventilator

Shir Moran & Shiri Tarko_The Monkey & Th
Shir Moran & Shiri Tarko_The Snake_2018_
Shir Moran & Shiri Tarko_The Cat & The D
Shir Moran & Shiri Tarko_The Wolf_2018_V
Shir Moran & Shiri Tarko_Monkey Business
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