This exhibition by Doron Fishbein contains a series of photographs of plastic bags that drifted away from their natural commercial environment and became haphazardly entangled in a barbed wire fence atop a wall surrounding a factory that produces orange juice. The series is accompanied by a short video depicting a pair of shoes hanging on the same barbed wire fence.
Plastic bags are an unmistakable symbol of our consumer society. For quite some time they have been whirling through the spaces of our untamed neo-capitalist culture. Even though plastic bags have been specified as an environmental hazard, time and again we find ourselves using them, carrying them with us, and storing them in a bottom drawer in the kitchen or in a special dispenser we purchased at Ikea. Plastic bags are the perfect and most flexible container for our bogus desires and for the moments when we execute our non-binding right of acquisition.
Fishbein observes plastic bags in their various transmutations, outside the context of their consumer role, as the wind inflates them against the background of the barbed wire and the sky, turning them into abstract creations of sort. In some of the photographs, their white-transparent folds and the bluish air that sculpts them are reminiscent of the immortal marble folds typical of statues from the classical period. The object at the center of the photograph positioned against the background of the parallel lines as well as the blue and white colors call to mind Israel’s flag. We are easily drawn into flag worship—the myth and the ideal promised by these images. But this enchantment comes to an end when in the next photographs we discover that all that remains of the bag are a few strands of plastic caught in the barbed wire. Again we learn that we have chosen the aesthetics of consumerism, of fast food or perhaps not even the food but rather only the wrapping.
This series of photos of plastic bags leads to a video work in which a hanging pair of shoes replaces the bag that was carried off by the wind. Here the central object set against the blue and white background turns into human attire. Yet as the empty shoes suggest, this human being is incomplete, and he can draw no conclusions about his humanity while standing against the blue-white landscape in which he exists. As a last resort all he can do is “hang up his shoes”, that is, drop out, give up, think about nothing, and certainly not about what he really wants, or what a long-term commitment he is willing to make for the fenced-in enterprise known as the State of Israel.
Hadas Weiss-Peled, Exhibition Curator